To really understand the problems related to green growth, Code4Green UB kicked off with a careful analysis of green growth-related challenges. These problem statements were surfaced during meetings with “problem owners” (such as government practitioners and non-governmental organizations), deconstructed into user stories to help innovators address them, and shared online in categories such as water, energy, transport and air quality. These clinics were accompanied by meet-ups that exposed participants to design thinking, lean startup strategies, datasets shared by partners, and international examples of green growth innovations.
The next phase turned to the tech community, inviting students, entrepreneurs and innovators to tackle these problems using software and hardware during a weekend marathon event. To keep the innovators on track, subject matter experts were on hand to validate theories, while business mentors trained teams on delivering pitches, developing business canvasses and more.
The event concluded with quick-fire pitches by each team and the subsequent selection of seven winners by a panel of judges comprised of sector, government, donor community and private sector representatives.
The jury included Mr. Ts. Buyantsogtoo, Adviser to the Speaker of Parliament of Mongolia, who in his closing remarks expressed his commitment for the government to continue collaborating with specific teams that he discovered during the pitches.
“I was impressed by the energy and creativity of the participants,” said Mr. Buyantsogtoo. “Activities like Code4Green UB help strengthen ties between government and citizens to innovate service delivery together.”
The teams were evaluated on a range of criteria including practicality, relevance to green growth challenges and potential for impact. Winning ideas included:
- Counter Punch, an app for citizens to report, monitor and compete about their water usage
- Gray Diamond, a sensor-equipped water filter to track the reuse of graywater in homes
- Green Nomads, a game that teaches traffic rules to future drivers to reduce congestion
Post-Ideathon activities to support entrepreneurship
The winning ideas alone aren’t enough to solve green growth challenges or develop meaningful entrepreneurship skills. To help these teams refine their ideas and startup acumen, the teams will jump directly into five weeks of pre-acceleration. This tailored program, led by Startup Mongolia, is designed to help teams build sustainable prototypes through mentorships, lean startup workshops and more.
Other activities are planned to further support these ideas. Pre-accelerator graduates will pitch at a Demo Day on May 15, 2015, where they will compete for Code4Green UB grand prizes including a study tour in Korea to learn from the tech start-up community, a comprehensive three-month acceleration program and funds to support teams’ development during that period.
Beyond Code4Green UB
The development of startup skills and experience is integral to the growth of new businesses, job opportunities and information and communication technology (ICT) use across the Mongolian economy. In this context, the Code4Green UB initiative aligns with a broader agenda to foster the ICT entrepreneurship ecosystem in Mongolia, particularly as a mechanism to support youth employment and gender equality in access to jobs.
Moreover, Code4Green UB represents a growing collaboration between the Government of Mongolia and the World Bank to leverage ICTs to improve service delivery. The SMART Mongolia project, currently pending approval with the country’s parliament, covers a suite of programs to improve interoperability between government systems, provide foundations for Open Data and help social innovators fund their journey from idea to startup.
Stay tuned for more Code4Green UB updates.