Techfugees Ireland
The Creative Minds hackathon at DCU Ryan Academy. Image: US Embassy Dublin/Flickr

Irish Techfugees chapter launched at DCU hackathon

20 Oct 2016

While a team of coders competed in a 48-hour hackathon to develop groundbreaking solutions to promote refugee inclusion, integration, and self-reliance; the Irish chapter of Techfugees was launched.

The creation of an Irish Techfugees chapter comes after the organisation sprang up last year. This was in reaction to the ongoing refugee crisis in southern Europe, as a result of the Syrian civil war.

The objective of the organisation is to create technological solutions to help refugees in some way, as well as teaching them some basic skills like coding, to help them on their way to a new life.

Ireland’s chapter – led by social entrepreneur Lye Ogunsanya – was unveiled at the Creative Minds hackathon earlier this week (14-16 October). It consisted of 100 young innovators aged 18 to 25 representing more than 14 different countries at the Dublin City University (DCU) Ryan Academy.

Much like Techfugees, the hackathon was hoping to develop groundbreaking solutions to promote refugee inclusion, integration and self-reliance.

Supported by over 20 mentors including NGOs, Startup Grind and the Irish Refugee Council, the 48-hour hackathon resulted in three teams walking away with €15,000 to bring their prototypes to life.

Kick-starting a chapter

One of the winning teams was a digital health platform to help refugees access health services in their native languages, called Health Path. Also included was a programme to promote inclusiveness by matching refugee and local families to build friendships and support systems, called Isle of Hope, as well as Líonra, a peer-to-peer platform that facilitates refugee integration through skills exchange and knowledge sharing.

One other noteworthy tech solution was Identify Refugee, which uses blockchain digital identification to help refugees establish and verify their identify.

Ogunsanya – one of the judges on the hackathon panel – said: “This hackathon has kick-started the launch of the Ireland chapter of Techfugees, a coalition of volunteers who are coordinating the tech industry response to the needs of refugees.

“We look forward to partnering with the DCU Ryan Academy to help incubate the hackathon’s winning solutions into viable platforms for refugee inclusion, while leveraging the global Techfugee network.”

Techfugees infographic

What Techfugees do. Image: Maryna Bolsunova/Techfugees

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Colm Gorey
By Colm Gorey

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic. He joined in January 2014 and covered AI, IoT, science and anything that will get us to Mars quicker. When not trying to get his hands on the latest gaming release, he can be found lost in a sea of Wikipedia articles on obscure historic battles and countries that don't exist any more, or watching classic Simpsons episodes far too many times to count.

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