Under this initial agreement, the UNDP’s tried and tested social innovation hackathon – HackaDev will be further scaled up and implemented until end-2019. The program is aimed at giving effect to the realization of the vision of a digital economy in Sri Lanka and will put young people in the spotlight of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals at the National level. The program is a co-financed initiative between the ministry and UNDP, working closely with the Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs, National Youth Services Council (NYSC) and Information and Communication Technology Agency of
Sri Lanka (ICTA). HackaDev aims to create a sustainable platform for young people in Sri Lanka to come up with innovative solutions to effectively address development challenges faced by their community or in the country at large.
Following the approval of the cabinet of ministers for the initiative, the initial phase of the program was implemented in latter half of 2017, where following a public call for applications for the National Youth Software Competition, a total of 45 innovative teams participated at three clustered HackaDev events in Badulla, Matara and Jaffna. Subsequently, nine teams went through the first phase of incubation in Colombo and will now receive seed funding to further develop their ideas towards implementation. Speaking about these teams, Minister of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Harin Fernando stated, “I am amazed at the talent we have in Sri Lanka. You need to fail to win again. If you know the taste of failing you know how it means to win. Never worry about somebody condemning your innovation. Keep going forward. I thank all the partners who have come together to create this platform for youth.”
Moving into the years 2018 and 2019, the project aims to further create opportunities for more young people to ideate solutions for development challenges by increasing their leadership, entrepreneurial and innovative capacities. Speaking following the signing, Secretary to the Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Wasantha Deshapriya said, “On behalf of the ministry I am happy about the partnership established with the UNDP and I call upon other partners involved to actively engage in scaling up the program even further for better results.”
UNDP Sri Lanka Country Director Jorn Sorensen noted, “UNDP is pleased to join hands with the ministry to support young people utilize their potential as agents of change and to explore innovative approaches to address sustainable development challenges.” A joint steering committee is already set up for the initiative, co-chaired by the Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure and UNDP and other relevant partners as members, as an effective and transparent governance mechanism for the program. With increased public and private partnerships and both local and global social innovation expertise to contribute for the program, it is the intention of both parties to position the program as a model of empowering young people, in the new development agenda.