Originally published by Tamara Pupic on ArabianBusiness.com, November 29, 2016.

Team Squirrels has won first place in Dubai and third place internationally at the Accenture Digital Connected Hackathon.

The winning team, consisting of energy expert Charles Blaschke, designer Sarah Hamawi, programmer Ali Obeid, and branding and marketing expert Vivek Mehta, was awarded for their project Taqas, an innovative solution that helps individuals reduce their energy consumption and utility bills in their homes.

The Accenture Digital Connected Hackathon was held internationally in collaboration with Expo 2020 Dubai, and locally in partnership with Etisalat Digital, taking place in eight cities – Rome, London, Madrid, Amsterdam, Dortmund, Prague, Istanbul and Dubai – simultaneously.

The “Connect. Collaborate. Create” competition aimed to encourage collaboration among students and inspire the creation of social innovation projects for a more inclusive future. It brought together 292 participants organised in 62 teams, with expertise in development, design and marketing.

Participants were asked to create innovative ideas focusing on the three themes at the centre of the World Expo to be held in Dubai in 2020-Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability. The themes were inspired by Expo 2020 Dubai’s core theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”.

Each project was assessed according to the strength of its concept, design and development, by a local jury composed of representatives from Expo 2020 Dubai, Etisalat Digital, and Accenture Digital team members.

Portakal, the overall, international winning team, was awarded with a €1,000 voucher and a trip to Dubai to present its project to the organisers of Expo 2020 Dubai. Their project, Planty, is an integrated, mobile  kit for micro farming that allows people living in urban areas with limited access to space, soil and water to grow their own fruit and vegetables, and at the same time to reconnect with nature.

Local winners

• Team Squirrels from Dubai with project Taqas.

• Team Look Ateam from Dubai with project Connected Life @Work, a solution that uses biometrics and vital data from users to help them in case of emergency.

• Team Kaprix from Dubai with project Online/Offline Refugee Rescue Circle, a crisis management that will be used by rescue volunteers and refugees to alert and broadcast an emergency.

International winners

• Team Portaka from Istanbul with project Planty, a mobile integrated kit for micro farming that empowers individuals who parted away from the nature to reconnect with it by easily guiding and educating them.

• Team AGerman from Dortmund with project #CryptoVote, an intuitive web interface that solves the problem of possible manipulations of elections.

• Team Squirrels from Dubai with project Taqas, an innovative solution that helps individuals reduce their energy consumption and utility bills in their homes.

Speaking about the success of the event, Tony Karam, managing director of Accenture Digital in the Middle East and North Africa, said: “The whole world is witness to the UAE’s strong track record in innovation. It is through ground-breaking approaches to ordinary matters, that the nation was able to transform itself to what we see and live in today. Accenture is keen on playing a key role in motivating the youth to share their creativity with a wider audience.

“Through events, such as the hackathon, we aim to be the catalyst behind the conceptualisation of great ideas, which will ultimately evolve to further excel the UAE in its drive towards excellence. We appreciate the support received from our partners, and we are delighted to see the big players in the IT sector come together to encourage the youth.”

The Accenture Digital Connected hackathon was also aimed at recruiting talented individual participants whose profiles were in line with Accenture recruitment plans in the participating countries. They may be offered internships or employment in Accenture Digital.