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TDRA launches the 7th edition of UAE Hackathon

The Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) announced the launch of the 7th edition of the UAE Hackathon, the largest annual event designed to foster innovation and promote entrepreneurship in the UAE, under the slogan “Today’s Challenges... Tomorrow’s Solutions.”

The Hackathon Journey starts in February with the challenge formulation phase, where government entities collaborate in shaping the challenges, which will be presented to participants in each emirate across the seven cycles of the hackathon.

This edition is in line with the UAE Digital Government Strategy 2025, which includes harnessing innovative and advanced technology to address challenges within the broader development process and specifically within government and official entities.

The 7th edition of the UAE Hackathon is based on key themes, exploring practical, realistic, and sustainable solutions to address government challenges, fostering the transition towards smart cities and digital societies, and enhancing collaboration among stakeholders within the development ecosystem, spanning government, academia, and the business sector. Additionally, it promotes data and modern technology utilization as indispensable tools in shaping the outlines of future solutions and ideas.

Commenting on this event, Eng. Saeed Belhoul, TDRA Acting Deputy Director General for Information and Digital Government Sector, said: “In today’s world, innovation has emerged as a pressing necessity to address the challenges presented by swift changes. Across its seven editions since 2018, the UAE Hackathon has effectively instituted traditions and practices that played a significant role in fostering a culture of innovation and creative thinking, leading to the generation of solutions and the development of ideas. The current edition places particular emphasis on the latest trends in digitization, focusing on providing proactive and specialized experiences grounded in renewable technologies, in line with 'We the UAE 2031' vision, which stipulates in its fourth pillar the establishment of a Forward Ecosystem.”

In the current edition, the UAE Hackathon is structured into three tracks. The first track, "Idea Hackathon," welcomes students from all participating emirates to showcase their ideas. The second track, "Solution Hackathon," invites government employees, innovators, and entrepreneurs to collaboratively explore practical solutions for diverse challenges. The third track, "Gov Innovators," is exclusively designed for federal government employees, aiming to inspire participants to contribute ideas for enhancing government services and applications. The hackathon acknowledges and awards prizes to the top three ideas in this category.

Hackathon activities are set to kick off next week, starting on Monday in Abu Dhabi and spanning two days (February 26-27) at the Higher Colleges of Technology. Subsequently, the events will move to Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah Hackathons in Umm Al Quwain (February 27-28) at Umm Al Quwain University. The Fujairah Hackathon will follow (February 28-29) at the University of Science and Technology of Fujairah. The journey continues with the Sharjah and Ajman Hackathon at the Higher Colleges of Technology Sharjah (March 4-5), concluding with the Dubai Hackathon (March 6-7) at the Higher Colleges of Technology in Dubai.

The announcement of the nominated teams is scheduled for March 11, with virtual orientation workshops set to take place over the month-long period from March 12 to April 12. The winners will be revealed during the UAE Hackathon conference, scheduled to coincide with World Innovation Day on April 23.

The Hackathon offers financial prizes totaling AED 329,000 and caters to four main categories of participants, divided into four distinct tracks. The "Rising Stars" track is designed for school students in the pre-university education stage, while the “Pioneers" track is aimed at university students aged between 18 and 25. The "Entrepreneurs" track is generally designed for owners of emerging companies or ideas. Lastly, the “Gov Innovators” track which targets government employees.

TDRA has identified several primary evaluation criteria. These include the potential impact on eliminating bureaucracy, feasibility of implementing solutions and ideas, data utilization, innovative use of artificial intelligence and emerging technology, the government entities capability to implement the ideas, and the creativity of the Pitch.

The Hackathon is anticipated to enable participants in exploring data-driven solutions, aligning with the objectives of the UAE Digital Government Strategy 2025. The goal is to strengthen the foundations of sustainable development, enhance the UAE’s position as a global leader in the field of digital government, and assimilate international best practices.