On June 26, 600 Lebanese individuals coming from a diverse range of educational and professional backgrounds got together for a three-day virtual event to develop innovative solutions that address some of Lebanon’s most pressing socio-economic problems. The event, which comprised a 48-hour virtual hackathon, effectively marked the beginning of the MIT Lebanon Challenge. Touch joined the endeavor as partners and leveraged its strong social media presence to help boost exposure for the event.

The brainchild of Lebanese MIT alumnus Jad Ojjeh, the challenge was designed to get stakeholders both inside Lebanon and from the diaspora to band together and find solutions for imminent challenges under three main categorizations, or tracks:

  • Basic Needs, which covers solutions that work to ensure the supply of basic goods and services – food, clean water, healthcare, energy, waste management, and shelter.
  • Industrial Economy, for solutions that strengthen local agriculture and manufacturing.
  • Knowledge Economy, which concerns itself with scalable digital solutions.

Following the opening ceremony, participants in the hackathon split up into 72 teams comprising between 4 and 7 members each. More than 100 mentors and advisors were present at the scene and lent their expertise in the areas of entrepreneurship, software development, pitching, and industry to the challengers.

Overall, the event included more than 1000 people. Other perks included more than 30 how-to guides on topics such as pitching and using Zoom, workshops, and data sets among many other resources needed to help solutions succeed.

The Hackathon Was Just the Beginning…

At the end of the event, 16 ideas and teams were selected to undergo a bespoke 5-week accelerator program – running from July 6 till August 9 and currently in its penultimate week – to allow them to further develop their projects The program includes a match-making process that seeks to foster collaborationbetween participants with technical and non-­technical backgrounds, in addition to guided mentorship and support in legal, business strategy, industry and technological areas.

Furthermore, the program participants are benefiting from access to workshops organized by the MIT Lebanon Challenge team and its affiliated partners, all in preparation for the final demos, which will celebrate their progress and allow them the chance to receive funding or donations from the attendees.