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The Covid-19 pandemic has hit hard on ongoing efforts to address social issues and environmental sustainability beyond the devastating impacts on the healthcare system and economy.

For example, a ban on disposable plastic bags in Thailand in early 2020 caused home-based measures to boost the amount of plastic waste in Bangkok by 62% in April, and Hong Kong streets and parks were clogged with take-out containers. Disposable cutlery when the family stayed for a meal.

Innovation and technology (I & T) solutions are urgently needed to address these and other social issues.

With the support of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park Corporation, the Innovation Technology Commission is the first City I & T Grand to solve key challenges for innovators and entrepreneurs to impact Hongkongers as they seek to overcome new conditions. Listen to the call to participate in the Challenge (Grand Challenge). Winners of each category will receive attractive prizes, certificates, or the opportunity to develop ideas for adoption by the government sector or public authorities.

At a media briefing held on December 18, last year, innovation and technology commissioner Rebecca Pung said some business plan competitions focused on team members and companies’ product development capabilities and their investment prospects. However, the Grand Challenge evaluates each proposal based on its originality, uniqueness and effectiveness, innovation and application of technology, and social benefits and impacts.

At the same briefing, Albert Wong, CEO of Hong Kong Science and Technology Park Corporation, said everyone could be an innovator who will shape the future. The Grand Challenge provides the general public with a valuable opportunity to apply creativity and develop smart solutions for the benefit of the community responding to new conditions in an ongoing pandemic.

Turn challenges into opportunities

The theme of the Grand Challenge is an innovation for Hong Kong’s New Normal that reflects the way pandemics have radically changed the way Hong Kong people live, work and learn. Despite these turmoil, there are many opportunities to reassess traditional behaviors and practices and live smarter during and after a pandemic.

The Grand Challenge welcomes elementary and junior high school students in Hong Kong who are enthusiastic about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, higher education institutions in Hong Kong and abroad, technology companies, R & D costumes, entrepreneurs and even retirees. With a new solution.

Participants can choose between two areas to develop their solution. Those who choose environmental sustainability need to create an I & T solution that seeks to solve the problem of disposable plastic tableware and household food waste in Hong Kong. Those interested in social connectivity need to propose I & T solutions for social interaction, especially for the elderly and children.

Submit your ideas as a team of up to 5 people or as an individual on the City I & T Grand Challenge website by April 24th. Following a rigorous process that includes mentorship, winners receive a highly coveted opportunity to develop prizes, certificates, or ideas for recruitment. Among other perks, by the public sector and the community.

University and open category winners will also be awarded R & D resources, professional training, and proof-of-concept tools such as government and public sector to optimize and implement innovative solutions. A series of workshops, seminars and training activities will also be held under the Grand Challenge for the Community.

Sustainability and social connectivity issues to address

World Bank Group Governor David Malpas points out that pandemics may exacerbate the global waste burden due to high usage and improper disposal of items such as masks and disposable containers. Did.

Already, Hong Kong’s landfill space is limited, with only 30% of the waste generated in 2018 being recycled. Food waste accounts for almost one-third of the waste disposed of in landfills. As more take-out orders and more people cook at home, the issue of food waste generated at home should be prioritized.

The city has a public recycling hub for collecting plastic tableware, supported by a mobile app that directs users to a nearby hub. Diners can also get rewards and discounts for using their dishes and containers. Other existing solutions include a residential complex smart bin system that monitors food waste mixed with impurities, a global positioning system, artificial intelligence route scheduling, real-time monitoring of the quantity and quality of collected food waste and Includes data transmission for control.

Here, the Grand Challenge is for customers and businesses such as public, property management companies, restaurants, schools and other institutions to reduce or replace the use of disposable plastic products through behavioral changes, reduction or increase in food waste. Seeking I & T solutions that encourage you to collect, store, treat (in residential and commercial facilities) and transport the efficiency of food waste treatment procedures.

The Grand Challenge also wants to address social issues that affect children and the elderly.

Globally, pandemics have created tensions at home, with some families working and learning at home, and some being deprived of personal connections and suffering from long-term social isolation. It is reported that the mental health hotline has increased.

For example, children may have difficulty learning online and communicating with peers, and children in disadvantaged families may not have access to electronic devices or poor data support and lack of technical assistance from caregivers. There is sex. I & T solutions should be aimed at helping such children maintain healthy social connections, as well as online games and apps.

Elderly and vulnerable people who live alone or in long-term care facilities away from their families also need social and emotional support. More creative, enabling older people and people with disabilities to have meaningful social interactions with their families, using video calls and interactive devices such as robots and virtual reality simulation products from homes and day care facilities. I & T solutions have great potential. Members and caretakers.

In line with Hong Kong’s smart city ambitions

With a long-term plan for innovation and building smart cities, Hong Kong is at the forefront of technology and R & D with the major goal of establishing an international I & T hub in the Greater Bay area.

The Grand Challenge is in line with these ambitions, opening endless opportunities from the pandemic experience and allowing innovators and entrepreneurs to develop their creativity in developing I & T solutions.

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