A call for tech-based solutions for a sustainable future

Inji Jaber, manager of IT Planning & Project Management Office and WTI founder.

​As part of the University's annual Winter Enrichment Program (WEP), running in 2022 from January 9th to 20th, the KAUST Women to Impact (WTI) initiative has partnered with the Office of Enrichment Programs to launch the Resilience Challenge. The goal of the Resilience Challenge is to seek technology-based solutions to help build resilience in local ecosystems in the face of fast-evolving challenges and megatrends such as climate change, epidemics, food insecurity, environmental degradation and the associated human health impacts.

The topic of resilience coincides with the central theme of the upcoming edition of the Winter Enrichment Program. The five tracks of the Resilience Challenge are: environment, health, food, water & energy, as well as health and digital, connectivity & cybersecurity. The winning solution submitted on the Resilience Challenge platform will win a grand prize of $10,000 USD. The second and third prizes will be $7,000 and $5,000, respectively.

"Although the Resilience Challenge is being organized through Women To Impact, the competition is not only for women. It's open for both genders," said Inji Jaber, Manager of IT Planning & Project Management Office and WTI Founder. "It's a worldwide competition. So, it's open globally for diverse individuals or teams with scientific engineering or technical backgrounds. And, of course, we need to encourage women's participation as well."

The deadline for submissions to the Resilience Challenge is December 31, 2021.

Sustainable solutions

Jaber also points to the important focus on sustainability. "It's one of the strategic goals here at KAUST," as she mentions. Because women are on the front lines and are often the first affected by global challenges requiring solutions based on resilience and sustainability, it made perfect sense for WTI to get involved in setting up a platform to address these issues.

The solutions entered as part of the Resilience Challenge will also be judged on their demonstrated impact in addressing and furthering the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Solutions submitted to the Resilience Challenge must be technology-based and be able to be mapped to real-world applications.

The top five selected participants with the best ideas and quality solutions will have the opportunity to attend WEP virtually and interact with subject-matter experts in the KAUST community, such as professors, sustainability experts and various advisors who will be able to help fine-tune their solutions, provide them with greater visibility and the opportunity to scale up their concepts.

Explaining the judging criteria for the submitted solutions to the Resilience Challenge, Jaber points out that, first and foremost, the ideas must be technology-based and practical. They must respond to everyday or industry-related needs. The science and evidence-based innovations must be mapped into clear applications. The solutions can also be at any stage of development–from ideation, prototype or even operational.

"We will put the teams with the best solutions in touch with our KAUST Innovation team to give them valuable training on pitching their ideas to investors and industry," said Jaber. "We all also provide guidance on how to enter the market and keep a solid market presence."

The WTI Resilience Challenge is officially sponsored by SEDCO Holding, in collaboration with Women to Impact, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the University's Office of Enrichment Programs.

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