Article written by Christian Alexander Andersen – TF Denmark co-lead
Based on the experiences from our first hackathon in October 2019 with Diginauts, Techfugees Denmark worked with partners to create our second Danish hackathon. During this hackathon we also welcomed two new members to the Danish Techfugees Chapter; Belinda and Abdulrashid, who were both an incredibly big part of making the event a huge success for the participants, Techfugees and the refugee community.
The Danish chapter of Techfugees organised its second hackathon at the Danish Google office, where more than 40 participants from 10+ nationalities – incl. France, Egypt, Syria, Iran, South Africa, Armenia, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam – were welcomed with open hearts from the local Googlers and made to feel at home.
The hack focused on one of the biggest challenges facing displaced people in Denmark; social inclusion. This is recognized as the core issue for many newcomers to Denmark, who express difficulty with becoming a part of Danish society and getting local friends.
In light of international women’s day (March 8) and feedback from people in the Danish immigrant community, including Hack Your Future and Trampoline House, we chose to add also make sure that gender & women issues would be a topic.
Two speakers kicked off the event by sharing their personal refugee journey distilling insights on how they faced many challenges to become socially accepted, and told us an incredible story of resilience animated by a strong desire to become Danish citizens. Animated by Blossom, a local NGO supporting refugee women’s integration, we got a quick overview of how difficult it is for young displaced people to make friends and social connections with people their own age.
These testimonials were followed by an idea generation phase, where 10+ ideas were proposed.
👉🏼 This resulted in 6 teams working on different and interesting ideas (among which one almost exclusively from RediSchool CPH students and teachers!!!). This was the perfect setting for creating new and innovative solutions for refugees. 👈🏼
The next day, a group of Googlers supported teams to sharpen their ideas, improve their storytelling and help each team clearly explain how they were going to get their first 1,000 users.
Lunch was an opportunity to host the latest google initiative called #IAMREMARKABLE session, which is a concept developed to help people –especially women- shine in the workspace and gain in self-confidence and public speaking abilities. Followed by… more hacking as, you know, hackers gotta hack, so we got everyone back at it until the evening, where we had a common dinner at one long table.
On the third, and final day, while hackers wrote their last lines and teams fine-tuned their pitch, we welcomed a qualified jury of experts from the tech and refugee community.
The jury consisted of; Ane Sommer Knudsen, who works with human rights and policy in the EU (Folkekirkens Nødhjælp & Reclaim), Martha Ivester & Belinda Taylor from Google CPH, Matthew Mahmudi from Cambridge University, Louise Brosset from Techfugees, Abdulrashid Mohammed from Techfugees Denmark, and Celia Rey from Blossom. Each team had 5 minutes to present their work and convince the jury they were the worthy winners, who could help with inclusion and bring their project to life.
By the end of hard votation, the winning team EDD was found. EDD helps refugees and other newcomers to Denmark get their degrees accredited. This was based on the insight that most social relations in Denmark either start in schools or at work. The team created a scalable solution, that has the potential to help millions of people far beyond the borders of Denmark. They won incubation at the ITU for the coming months.
However, EDD wasn’t the only great team and the decision was difficult. Among the other ways of tackling the issues were’, skill-sharing platforms, automated legal advice & public service redirection through an app, internships & mentoring platforms, and a gamification solution for volunteering.
Thanks again to the amazing team at Google CPH who, despite the last minute corona-stress, helped make the event possible, specifically Ryan Strain, who made the initial contact but wasn’t able to be there, and Belinda Taylor for stepping up to take Ryan’s place and Martha Ivester for sponsoring the event.
Next on the agenda, Techfugees Denmark is looking for new partners to sponsor and collaborate on our next hackathon. We will use all the experiences from this time, in order to make new ideas and initiatives come to live.