NASRDA holds hackathon to address national challenges 

The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) is holding a Hackathon to discover ideas and creative innovations that could address national problems.

The Hackathon and Tech Fair 2023 is a maiden edition of the event with about 60 participants with different innovative ideas that could be channelled towards addressing national issues in Abuja.

The four-day programme, holding from June 5 to 9, is themed “Space Innovations for Industry 4.0’’.

Industry 4.0, also referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is the current era of connectivity, advanced analytics, automation and advanced manufacturing technology that has been transforming global businesses.

Dr Halilu Shaba, the Director-General of NASRDA, at the opening ceremony, recognised that Nigeria, being a growing economy faced a mirage of issues across sectors.

Shaba said that the hackathon and tech fair period would be a platform to test collective intellect and creativity.

“We have gathered here to seek out ground-breaking ideas that can effectively address the challenges faced by Nigeria.

“Our goal is to develop solutions that can bring about positive transformation, foster economic growth and improve the quality of life for our fellow citizens,’’ he said.

The director-general urged the participants to approach the event with a sense of purpose and commitment to leveraging skills, creativity and expertise for national growth.

“Let us harness the power of technology and Industry 4.0 to find innovative solutions that can overcome the obstacles we face as a nation.

“We can do that by pioneering breakthrough solutions in Artificial Intelligence, Cyber security, nanotechnology, robotics and disruptive space applications,” he said.

According to him, we must strive to create a future where space technology and Industry 4.0 converge to build a sustainable, prosperous and technologically advanced Nigeria.

Prof. Azikiwe Onwualu, the Acting Director, African University of Science and Technology (AUST), while speaking on “Bringing Innovative Ideas to Life: Prototype to Commercialisation”, called for a functional National System of Innovation (NSI).

Onwualu said the NSI should be based on the triple Helix Model that would bring the government, academia and the industry together for the same purpose of national development.

According to him, it will ensure sustainable commercialisation of ideas, innovations, prototypes as well as  research and development results.

“Nigeria is blessed with human capital, ideas, but what we have not done is converting those ideas to goods and services, and that is why we keep importing things.

“We need to train people, get them to understand the process of commercialisation, so the hackathon is important for people to learn how to take their ideas, to innovation and then to market.

“If we are able to train people, and in each hackathon or exhibition, we go away with five to ten innovations that hit the market, we will have thousands of innovations coming up yearly in different sectors.’’

He added that there existed great opportunities in the power sector, agriculture, in all sectors of economy where young Nigerians could initiate ideas and be guided for commercialisation.

Dr Haruna Mohammed, the Chairman, Local Organising Committee, said the hackathon would witness the gathering of brilliant minds, creative ideas and cutting-edge technology.

Mohammed said the Hackathon’s focus areas would encompass Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity, Nanotechnology, Robotics and Disruptive technology applications.

“By embracing these domains, we aim to unlock new frontiers of knowledge and transform our industries because this hackathon and tech fair serves as a platform for innovation and collaboration.

“It is an opportunity to harness the potential of emerging technologies and explore their applications in solving real world challenges,’’ he said.

He further said the hackathon was beyond a competition, adding that the agency aspired to foster an environment where participants can network, learn from experts and exchange ideas.

Mohammed told the participants that Nigerians were looking up to them as epitome of innovation and problem solving, because their dedication would be the driving force to shape the future of the country.

He said about 60 participants were carefully selected by their technical group sub-committee who examined their innovative video entries and as well determined who was to participate.

“We had to take their entries through engineering feasibility, scientific and commercial feasibility.’’

He also said that there were prizes for different thematic areas which included N1 million for the first position, N750,000 for the second position and N500,000 for the third.

The hackathon is being sponsored by the Bank of Industry, while some of the exhibitors at the hackathon included Nigerian Tulip International College and Cyber Plural, among others.