Cambridge, MA—On August 28-30, 2020, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will host the India: Turning the Tide challenge, the seventh in a series of MIT-led hackathons designed to create solutions to address critical needs during the COVID-19 crisis.
The challenge is open to the public and the deadline to apply to participate is Monday, August 24, 2020 before 9:29 a.m. IST.
During MIT’s India: Turning the Tide challenge, teams from around the world—drawing from universities, private sector, government, and NGOs, among others—will collaborate, ideate and help create solutions to address the most critical unmet needs that have emerged as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak across the country.
“India, with its population density and the scale of its informal sector is facing some unprecedented and unique challenges that call for extraordinary leadership from the community. Many of the strategies that have been adopted at a smaller scale or in the early stages of the pandemic become practically impossible to sustain long-term, without trade-offs,” say Rao V. Mantri (MIT Sloan EMBA ’20) and Geethanjali Gopal (MIT Sloan EMBA ’20), organizers of India: Turning the Tide.
The hackathon sourced problem statements in collaboration with partners to address this unique situation and will structure the hackathon around four themes: 1) promoting effective and practical solutions to support underserved populations; 2) reviving the informal economy while mitigating the risks of the spread of the virus; 3) strengthening healthcare systems for all while improving the lives of healthcare workers; and 4) curbing the spread of misinformation and fraud while expanding the dialogue to make critical information available on time. “Participants do not need coding experience. We are looking for a diverse set of participants from various industries. The will to make a difference and a creative mindset is all you need,” say Mantri and Gopal.
Participants will form teams on Friday, August 28, 2020 to hone in on the problem statements and generate solution pitches, followed by an opportunity to develop solutions, including proof of concepts, prototypes, and preliminary vision for execution. On Sunday, August 30, teams will reconvene to present their work after refining their pitches with the help of mentors and the winners will be announced. After the weekend, the teams judged as having the most promising ideas will have the opportunity to co-develop and implement their solutions with the support of a growing list of collaborators.
“We strongly believe that good ideas really thrive in sustainable innovation ecosystems. The MIT COVID-19 challenge creates such a platform by bringing together innovators, mentors and partners all in one place. Together, we can and we will beat this virus,” said Kushal Gohil (MIT Sloan EMBA ’20) and Ananthi Rathinam (MIT Sloan EMBA ’20), also part of the event’s organizing team.
The challenge is designed to have outcomes that last beyond August 30, both for implementing scalable solutions in India and helping spur new hackathons for other regions. Previous MIT COVID-19 challenge events have been incredibly successful in amalgamating diverse perspectives to create efficient and sustainable solutions from multi-disciplinary volunteer experts from different countries and backgrounds.
Freddy Nguyen, a postdoctoral fellow at MIT and event organizer, says “A number of solutions borne out of these hackathons are being implemented, one such example is wePool, an innovative, intelligent pooled testing mechanism for efficient COVID-19 screening (https://wepool.ai). We look forward to similar success with this event.”
Saurabh Awasthi (MIT Sloan EMBA ’22) and Prashanth Prasanna (MIT Sloan EMBA ’20), both on the organizing team, say they are humbled by the positive responses they have received from both partners and participants and want to encourage aspiring participants to apply soon, and—in the true spirit of MIT—bring an innovation mindset, challenge the status quo and help India to turn the tide against the coronavirus.