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Bringing together all segments of society, the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) disseminated the culture of digital transformation in the 6th edition of the UAE Hackathon, the largest competitive national event for innovation.

Overall, the total number of participants in the UAE Hackathon 6.0 edition was 2,488. They formed hundreds of teams, of which 311 reached the judging stage.

In terms of geographical participation, Abu Dhabi ranked first with the most number of participants, followed by Dubai, Sharjah, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Ajman.

Winning Teams

TDRA announced the winning teams of this year’s UAE Hackathon, with awards amounting to AED 400,000. In the school students’ track, the victorious teams were Eduverse, UAE Happiness Centre Robot: Facial Expression Recognition ML Model, AIAL, Al Zawraa Innovators 3, Virtual Imam, Automated Recycling Box, Mohammed Bin Rashid School-1, Electricity from Desert, Elite Birds and Emirati Heritage Application (EHA).

In the university students’ track, the winners were Sustainable Aquaponic, Mosef, Es3afa, Katara, Waffer, the Flybolans, A8, Miles Ahead, Roots, and the Quick Nerve Relaxation team. In the entrepreneurs, experts and employees track, the Mental Life, Asma'ak: Sign Language Translator, Afia, Newlink, Trust Teaching, Co On, Smart Umm Al Quwain, Hassad, Front Line Innovators and Ajman Municipality and Planning Department teams have been selected.

Both of the above-mentioned tracks will have opportunities for project incubation that will give them the chance to start implementing their ideas and transform them into real projects that serve the government and private sectors.

Furthermore, the winner out of the four qualified teams in the researcher track will be announced at the next GITEX Impact, to be held between May 10–12, 2023. These include Expert Systems for Site Selection of Emergency Facilities, Smart Education, Droxide: Carbon Dioxide Redefined and the University of Dubai Wireless Communications Research Lab.

Pursuing National Strategies

The UAE Hackathon 2023 set a number of pillars inspired by the "We Are the UAE 2031" vision, namely: consolidating national identity; protecting the environment; achieving principles of sustainability; developing the educational system; expanding UAE’s international economic partnerships; and accelerating Emiratization. A wide range of next-generation technologies, such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, big data, data analysis, the Internet of Things, metaverse and augmented reality, would support these objectives.

TDRA said that the “UAE Hackathon is an important annual event in the field of innovation.” Renewed in form and content to incorporate lessons from the past and developments of the present, this event is “in line with the directions of the UAE and its wise leadership.”

Setting the groundwork for the UAE Hackathon, TDRA is working towards designing a sustainable digital future to contribute to realizing the UAE Centennial 2071 as well as the UAE’s active role in the Industry 4.0 era.

The UAE Hackathon is an integral part of addressing the 4th Industrial Revolution Strategy, the National Innovation Strategy, and other national plans. This project aims to draw attention to and derive the high value of data and advanced solutions that can enhance the economic, social, environmental and scientific aspects of life.

Empowering Youth

More importantly, the UAE Hackathon aims to maximize youth competencies and refine the skills of the winners by integrating them with innovation centers, business accelerators and technology incubators to reach real prototypes and start-ups.

By category, the track of school students is between the ages of 11 and 18 who have not yet reached university, while the track of university students is for the ages of 18 and above who do not yet have lengthy professional experience. Joining these youth is the track of startups and entrepreneurs as well, which targets experts from various fields with strong technical expertise.

Emphasizing the culture of innovation as an integral part of building capabilities in the country, TDRA’s UAE Hackathon 6.0 is made possible thanks to strategic partnerships with numerous government entities across the emirates, the private sector, which comprises leading ICT players in the country, and national universities.

Encouraging Applied Research

For the first time, the 2023 edition of the UAE Hackathon dedicated a part of the hackathon-related activities to encouraging applied research, with a prize allocation of AED 100,000 for the winning research.

TDRA emphasized that successful solutions nowadays are the “result of innovation and creative thinking.” The hackathon environment is ideal for “generating and discussing ideas and turning them into projects that can be implemented in a realistic way.”

The new track, launched for early-career researchers and experts working on interdisciplinary applied research, intends to achieve the UAE’s mission of preparing a generation of innovators. These teams must be affiliated with and funded by a university in the UAE.

By the end of the incubation and technical support phase, the qualified teams will get the chance to present their professional projects at GITEX, the global tech show, happening on October 16–20, 2023.

In this context, the UAE Hackathon aims to discover advanced and flexible solutions that meet the requirements of digital transformation, consolidate the principle of partnership with the private sector to achieve SDGs and, at the same time, enhance knowledge sharing and modernization.

The UAE Hackathon 2023 Journey

The practical stages of the UAE Hackathon 6.0 started at the end of January 2023 with the submission and registration stage and the introduction session with government entities and universities.

This is followed by the second stage in February 2023, where teams have undergone trainings and workshops according to the challenges they participated in.

And for the third and final stage — the evaluation stage — the teams are divided according to their location in the seven emirates of the country, and the top three teams from each emirate are chosen.

TDRA appreciated the participating entities for their “loyalty and tireless efforts” to make the annual UAE Hackathon event a success. This nationwide initiative fosters “innovation, creative ideas and projects that simulate the needs of the future.”

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