By Santosh Hejmadi

“There is such a buzz amidst the silence of brilliant minds all working together for a common goal.” Santosh Hejmadi from TF Sweden explains what happened at the ARctic Challenge, the first Techfugees hackathon to take place in Sweden.

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Who took part in the ARctic Challenge?

We had 50 participants including people from tech companies, along with immigrants and students from various parts of the world studying at the nearby Luleå Technical University (LTU). They came from Skellefteå city, Umeå city as well as Lövånger, Jörn, Skelleftehamn – this is where most of the refugees live.

It all took place over the weekend of 19 November 2016 at The Great Northern, Skellefteå’s new innovation arena, and was run by Skelleftea Digital Alliance and the Smart Sense Region Project in collaboration with the municipality of Skellefteå, Smart Growth, Science City Skellefteå, Luleå University of Technology, and Techfugees.

What happened on the day?

One of the tasks for the participants was to suggest in augmented reality apps that can help newcomers and refugees integrate into society.

The participants developed some amazing apps which provided smart solutions for residents and immigrants alike. They covered an impressive mix of topics:

  • immigrant integration
  • natural resources
  • renewables
  • visitors/tourism
  • disabilities, particularly focusing on blindness
  • language training and learning

We started off with eight teams, including two teams whose members were refugees themselves. However, one of these teams could not come on day two so the final count was seven.

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Who were the winners?

Whilst all of the apps were interesting, one finalist and one runner-up were selected by a jury of four.

First prize went to Skellefteåll who developed an interactive game for children, tourists and immigrants to get to know Skelleftea. You take a picture of a building or an object in town, and the app recognizes the object and tells you what it is. You also get points by collecting the items.

On the team: Olga Rybnytska, Felipe Leon, Victor Araujo, Atefeh Maleki, and Chandara Chea.

The runners-up were Team AD-HOC with their app Sortly, which helps with recycling. You read a QR code on a bin with your mobile phone and see pictures and text in your chosen language explaining what to put in the bin. You can also read barcodes on packages and find out whether you can recycle it at home or if you have to take it to the recycling station.

On the team: James Zhou, Greger Burman, Christopher Lundberg, Mattias Svedjevik and Simon Larsson.

What did people say about the Arctic Challenge?

We got some lovely comments!

A participant from Brazil

It was really nice indeed. I liked everything. The organization was amazing. Thank you for everything.

Bengt Ivansson, Head of the Business Development Office, Skellefteå Kommun

I’m really happy and proud to see so many different nationalities creating magic for people entering and starting their new life here in Sweden. It fits well with the municipality’s priorities on digitalisation, entrepreneurship and integration.

Nazia Hussain – a visitor who helped at the Hackathon

There is such a buzz amidst the silence of brilliant minds all working together for a common goal here at The Great Northern.

You can also read write-ups of the event in the local press:

What’s happening next?

“Some of the proposals will be presented to the municipality of Skellefteå and the plan is that we will organize more similar hackathons”, said Emina Kovacevic. innovation manager at Skelleftea Science City.

How can people contact you?

Take a look at the ARctic Challenge website