International Space Apps Challenge 2016 Kathmandu

Eklabya Sharma, Director Programme Operations, ICIMOD with the winning team

ICIMOD and Young Innovations Pvt. Ltd. (YIPL) jointly organized a two-day event ‘International Space Apps Challenge’ (ISAC) in Kathmandu from 23 to 24 April 2016. This was the fourth time the two organizations collaboratively organized  ISAC in Nepal. This year the event was supported by the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC), Women Leaders in Technology (WLIT), Robotics Association of Nepal (RAN) and CSIT Association of Nepal. ISAC is an international mass collaboration focusing on space exploration that takes place over a 48-hour period in 160 cities around the world. The event incorporated collaborative solutions to problems by producing relevant open-source applications to address global needs, both on Earth and in space. This NASA-led worldwide collaborative annual event comprises about 200 local organizing teams.  

The forum brought together various international and local interest groups to showcase specific space/Earth challenges and innovative applications on various themes.  

Team at Work

ICIMOD’s Mountain Environment Regional Information System (MENRIS) Regional Programme supports integration and analysis of multidisciplinary data, disseminates specific information through the use of an innovative information system and effective use of information and knowledge products for developmental and environmental decision making. To that effect, the centre functions as the operational partner for USAID/NASA’s SERVIR hub that caters to the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. The SERVIR initiative supports activities in integrating Earth observation information and geospatial technologies into development decision making. 

Birendra Bajracharya, Regional Programme Manager for MENRIS, and Muhan Maskey, Policy Institutional Strengthening Expert at AEPC, delivered welcome remarks at the event.  

Participant presenting her challenge

The main objectives of ISAC this year were to (i) provide an international platform, particularly to local space/Earth innovation interest groups, to work on issues that matter to people in the eastern context (ii) help leverage innovative work on various local issues and open opportunities to create local apps useful for society, and (iii) provide opportunities to link young students and professionals in different thematic areas with international environmentalists, data systems, etc.

ISAC 2016 had set more than 28 challenges in six thematic areas: technology, aeronautics, space station, solar system, Earth, and journey to Mars. The challenges were published right before the hackathon. In addition to these challenges, local challenges were developed for the participants. Those challenges accompanied necessary data and defined collaboration with partner organizations and network. Participation in this event was open to people from a broad range of fields including engineers, technicians, social scientists, designers, artists, educators, students, entrepreneurs and anyone with a passion for making a difference in the world. 

Birendra Bajracharya, Regional Programme Manager, MENRIS,ICIMOD giving his Welcome Remarks

Teams comprising a total of 63 participants presented their projects during the competition. Team ‘Nepali’, ‘API’ and ‘Visually (IM)paired’ won the first, second and third prizes respectively. The prizes were worth NPR 30,000, NPR 20,000, and NPR 10,000 respectively.

Dr Eklabya Sharma, Director of Programme Operations at ICIMOD, handed out the awards to the winners. In his closing remarks, he said that the hackathon encouraged young minds to find creative solutions to challenges faced by society. He also expressed his interest in supporting relevant proposals in areas that ICIMOD works in, such as climate change and disaster response. Satish Gautam, National Programme Manager at RERL/AEPC, shared his enthusiasm for collaborating with the teams in developing innovative solutions to problems in Nepal. Bibhusan Bista, CEO of Young Innovations, expressed his appreciation for the public-private partnership that had made the event possible and encouraged the participants to utilise the opportunity for a bigger and better purpose. 

The two-day event concluded successfully amid great enthusiasm and creative energy.