Thoughtworks, global software consultancy, partnered with LetsEndorse Development, an online ecosystem of social innovators, NGOs and communities, and Ekonnect Knowledge Foundation, a not-for-profit offering awareness, training, and education programs in environmental management and sustainability, to host the 2020 Thoughtworks Social Hackathon.
The aim of the hackathon was to get the student community in India to submit tech-driven ideas that benefit society.
Four social challenge statements based on the UN's sustainable development goals (SDG) were launched on LetsEndorse's OPINE (Open Innovation Engine) platform. The statements focused on early epidemic detection, boosting organic farming, generating livelihoods from waste, and promoting road safety.
Over 60 undergraduate and postgraduate colleges from across India participated in the event. Their ideas were reviewed by experts from Social Alpha, PATH, The United Nations Development Programme, Institute of Driving and Traffic Research and Toyota Kirloskar Motors.
On the collaborative initiative, Tina Vinod, Head of Diversity and Inclusion for Thoughtworks in India said, "Technology plays a critical role in driving positive social change and influencing a better tomorrow. The Thoughtworks Social Hackathon 2020 is a platform where the student community can discuss and experiment with technology and design thinking. We offer our heartiest congratulations to all the winners and would like to thank our partners, EKonnect and LetsEndorse for their support."
Shortlisted teams were mentored on incubation, idea pitching, and social innovation by Vishal Mehta, co-founder and partner at Lok Capital, Jibby Mathews, manager of CSR at Mahindra & Mahindra and Srikanth Prabhu, head of investments and portfolio at Social Alpha.
Monika Shukla, Co-founder of LetsEndorse, said, "The OPINE platform helped India's students co-create and develop solutions for socio-business challenges. Ideators gained access to our ecosystem of 2,000+ grassroots NGOs so that they could quickly validate and test their ideas. Throughout the development phase and post the finals the students will be able to leverage our platform to connect with corporations' CSR and sustainability teams as well."
The virtual finale, held on 27 June 2020, saw four teams with a mix of students from Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS Pilani), Jaypee Institute of Information Technology (JIIT), Shri Ram College Of Commerce (SRCC), Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Technology (MAIT) and Guru Tegh Bahadur Institute of Technology (GTBIT) emerge as winners. The four winning teams won a total grant amount of INR 2 lakhs to help further develop their ideas and bring them to life.
The perse range of winning ideas covered an interactive UV-C tech-powered disinfection system, an intelligent soil health monitoring system, smokeless biochar briquettes, and an IoT and AI-based traffic management solution. The winners were chosen based on how innovative, technically-sound and scalable the proposed solutions were.
Dr. Prasad Modak, Founder of Ekonnect Knowledge Foundation added, "A social hackathon focused on the UN's SDGs is unique, and relevant in the COVID-19 scenario. Responses triggered by the challenge statements are evidence of how innovative and committed, today's young generation is, to sustainability. We must continue to collaborate with our academic institutions to create eco-innovation centers to accelerate training, research and education."
To find more about Thoughtworks' social responsible programs visit: Thoughtworks.com/SocialChange.