More than 160 people raced against the clock to come up with the best ideas to support digital citizenship in Kyrgyzstan during a three-day event last week in Bishkek. 32 interdisciplinary teams drawn from across civil society, the tech sector, social entrepreneurs and universities participated in the Digital Citizenship Hackathon. Of the more than 160 participants, 80 percent were under 30, and 43 percent were women.
From October 23-25, the teams worked intensively for 48 hours, aided by mentors and facilitators, to propose innovative ideas and prototypes to address various challenges of the digital age. Solutions included business ideas, new apps and educational campaigns to enhance Kyrgyz citizen’s digital skills, safety and security, as well as to address wider challenges related to privacy and accountability.
The event was highly competitive, with some 55 teams applying to compete in the hackathon. Facing an overwhelming interest in the event, the original plan to have only 10 teams was quickly expanded to 32, as additional sponsors jumped in to support the event, including the Soros Foundation, Kaspersky, Digital Casa and others.
On the last day of the hackathon, each team was given three minutes to pitch their proposal to a five-member judging panel in a “dragon’s den” format. Ten teams were selected to move forward to the next stage of the competition – an intensive week-long bootcamp to turn their great ideas into viable investment proposals, to be held in November. A group of experts will evaluate the proposals and award the winning team(s) up to $20,000 in a form of a grant-based investment to launch their ideas and digital tools. Stay tuned!