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#Tech4Muni - the next generation of hackathon to be held in Skopje on 11-12 September


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Supporting local talent to overcome municipal challenges

UNDP and Tel Aviv’s innovation lab, ‘Creators’, are organizing a hackathon open to all entrepreneurs in the country, inviting talented local companies and entrepreneurs to work on helping overcome local development challenges in need of urgent solutions.

The hackathon will be held in Skopje on 11-12 September, offering an opportunity for those who can come up with the most innovative and effective ideas for improving municipality services to win funding of up to 40,000 USD for the implementation and piloting of the solutions. Those solutions that successful may in future be replicated in other municipalities as well.

The event is part of a wider project for ‘Improving Municipal Governance’, which is being implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Local Self-Government and financed by the European Union.

The first three municipalities taking part are Gostivar, Veles and Strumica. The local authorities and residents of these municipalities have identified the following challenges as the five most pressing:

1)            Stray dogs have become a major cause of concern, with numerous cases of people being bitten and intimidated, as well as widespread poisoning of dogs, which is both inhumane and dangerous to human health. Dogs are also often mistreated by citizens and by the authorities, moreover, with no effective solution currently available to address this problem.

2)            Local tourism is underdeveloped.  Despite the beautiful mountain landscapes, picturesque traditional villages and ancient lakes to be found in these municipalities, together with their unique cultural heritage, the tremendous potential for tourism – especially sustainable eco-tourism – remains largely untapped and is in urgent need of greater promotion to help local communities prosper and invest in conserving these valuable habitats.

3)            Improving access to municipal services is vital to ensure that all citizens, including the most vulnerable amongst the population, can benefit from the local services to which they have an equal right. Most of these services are currently only available by directly visiting the municipality building, however, which is not only time-consuming for most citizens but also beyond the capacity of many vulnerable people and communities in remote regions.

4)            Public space is underused. Municipalities often have space and premises that are mainly used only during working hours. This space is empty and unused in the evenings and could be offered for activities organized by various groups (CSOs, business, individuals, etc.) for the benefit of the public. Online space booking, for example, is currently unavailable.

5)            Elderly residents need support and assistance in their daily activities, since many of them live alone and have difficulties getting out of their homes. Senior citizens often feel lonely and do not have enough interactions with others, particularly if they live in secluded areas.

How could technology help solve some of these challenges?

“In the last four years we have worked with many municipalities and governments worldwide to create strategic innovation programmes designed to help make governance more innovative and competitive. The project we have developed with UNDP North Macedonia reflects the methodology we have used so far in Israel and beyond – a comprehensive programme concept that supports municipalities in learning to identify and define challenges, validate these challenges and be offered relevant solutions, ultimately implementing the best solutions in a quick proof-of-concept model”, says Monika Rozalska, CEO of the Creators.

“In an increasingly complex world where development challenges are continuously emerging and changing, there is an urgent need to move away from business as usual and respond with agile and flexible solutions”, says UNDP Resident Representative Narine Sahakyan. “It is great to see that municipalities here are eager to implement innovation, but most are still inexperienced in undertaking collaborative projects with the private sector, especially with technology-oriented companies. With this program we are aiming to partner with entrepreneurs in solving existing challenges that affect citizens and their communities, but also to create opportunities for them to pilot business ideas with potential to be replicated in the country and beyond. It’s a win-win outcome for everyone.”

For more information about the hackathon or to register today, visit: www.tech4muni.mk

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