The Indian High Commission Guyana hosted Ideathon last week in the capital city Georgetown last week. The event was presided over by His Excellency (Ambassador) High Commissioner Dr KJ Srinivasa. It was held at the National Convention Center. It was a stiff competition among registrants. The competition was judged by outstanding personalities from the University of Guyana as well as the media and civil service. Among the guests were former West Indies cricket captain Sir Clive Lloyd and Vice Chancellor of University of Guyana Dr Paloma Mohammed.
The High Commission issued the below release on the event.
The much-anticipated Ideathon-Guyana 2022 was held at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre on Sunday, 11 December 2022. The event attracted registration of over 101 teams from across Guyana with teams comprising of 2-5 members each, in two age categories of 14-17 years and 18-21 years. They were dealing with problems currently affecting Guyana’s Education, Entrepreneurship, Environment, and Health sectors provided by the respective ministries to the organizers.
Based on an one page brief summary of their proposed project concept, these 101 teams were whittled down to 35 teams – 17 teams in the 14-17 years age category and 18 teams in the 18-21 year age category. Over 125 participants from these two categories were present at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre on Sunday, 11 December 2022. A team of expert advisers/mentors chosen by the organizers in coordination with the Office of the Prime Minister’s Industry and Innovation Unit and the University of Guyana were at hand to offer their advise and mentorship to these teams to help them better understand their problems they were dealing with as well as how to present their solutions in a suitable way. The Mentors comprised of Dr. Quincy Jones – Director of School of Allied Health of University of Guyana, Mr. Eric Phillips – Lecturer at University of Guyana, Ms. Diana Gobin – Lecturer in Department of Environment in University of Guyana, Mr. Malik Williams – a talented ICT Engineer & Digital Consultant and Mr. Shahrukh Hussain – Director of the Office of Prime Minister, Industry and Innovation Unit.
This was followed by judging of these presentations by the judges comprising of well-known experts of Guyana – Dr. Charmaine Bissear from the Department of Education of University of Guyana, Prof. Leyland Lucas – Dean of the School of Business of University of Guyana, Mr. Norwell Hinds – of the Environment and Sustainable Department of University of Guyana, Mr Shawn Coonjah of the Office of Prime Minister’s Industry and Innovation Unit, Dr. Ritesh Tularam – Deputy CEO of the Ministry of Education, Mr. Lance Hinds – Chief Executive of the BrainStreetGroup, Mr. Shomari Williams – Global Webby Award Winner & Lecturer at University of Guyana, and Mr. Tajeram Mohabir – Editor in Chief of the Guyana Chronicle.
The judges adjudged the teams in two groups – one group judging the 14-17 years category and the other judging the 18-21 years category. The enthusiasm of the participants was visible since the morning when they set up their booths at 7.30 a.m. The final rounds were held in the afternoon inside the main dome of the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, wherein top 7 contenders from each category were given the opportunity to present their reports/presentation in front of a packed audience of about 250 people which included the Diplomatic Corps, Hon. Minister for Public Works – Sonia Parag, Hon. Minister for Human Services and Social Security – Dr. Vindhya Persaud, Members of Parliament including Ganesh Mahipal of the Opposition, Vice Chancellor of University of Guyana – Prof. Paloma Mohamed, businessmen/entrepreneurs, Civil Society, NGOs etc. Former Captain of the West Indies Cricket Team the legendary Sir Clive Lloyd was also present in the audience.
Based on Judges’ decision, four prizes were given in each age group category including Overall Best prize followed by three Runners Up prizes. The winners were awarded with trophies, medals, certificates, gift hampers as well as a hefty cash prize consisting of US$ 400 to each team member of the winning team that won the overall prize, US$ 300 for each team member of the first Runner Up team, US$ 250 to each team member for the second Runner Up team and US$ 200 to each team member of the third Runner Up team.
The IdeathonGuyana 2022 concept was initiated by Mr. Athrav Kotehal Gowdara, a student of Class 12 at the Guyana International Academy (American International School of Guyana) based on advise and mentorship received from Mr. Peter Han – founder of SkyTree mentoring, Mr. Eldon Marks – Founding Director of V75 Inc. and Mr. Shahrukh Hussain – Director of Office of the Prime Minister’s Industry and Innovation Unit. Athrav then teamed up with his colleagues – Pratham Joshi of St. Mary’s International School of Tokyo, Yash Saxena from Monte Vista High School, California USA and Lucien Stanley of the American School of Georgetown. They reached out to the Ministries of Health, Education, Tourism/Commerce/Industry and Natural Resources of the Government of Guyana with the request for problem statements on the issues affecting Guyana currently, based on which the teams were asked to come up with innovative solutions.
In his speech, Mr. Athrav stated that his idea of promoting such Ideathon came as a result of him being the son of a diplomat (he is the son of Dr. K J Srinivasa, High Commissioner of India to Guyana), after travelling across over 40 countries, staying in 6 countries across 5 continents, where he saw a huge polarity between elite and non-elite, rich and poor people, the distinct challenges faced by the under-privileged across societies and the fact that he noticed that many young people having potential solutions to these problems never got a chance to be heard. Athrav stated that he realized that he should do something in Guyana to provide solutions afflicting those sectors under this Ideathon. The aim of this Ideathon was to promote a spirit of competition among the youth but at the same time to be an educative event being all inclusive – which was achieved with Youth from all across Guyana representing diverse socio-economic groups being present. Their solutions to each of these problem sectors were well received by not only the judges/mentors but also a wide range of audience who had come to observe the Ideathon in progress.
High Commissioner of India to Guyana Dr. K J Srinivasa, in his speech, spoke about how India has become a centre for start-ups and entrepreneurship and the need for the youth of Guyana to pitch in to resolve these problems of Guyana. He thanked all the stakeholders, sponsors and partners of the event while giving a call to the youth of Guyana to continue their innovative journey and strive for excellence in the future. He charged the youth of Guyana to always keep “country first” motto in their thoughts and actions and hoped that the event ignites the young minds of Guyana, the Government of Guyana/the entrepreneurial sector of Guyana to take necessary steps for this way forward.
Hon. Minister for Public Service Sonia Parag, in her speech, commended Mr. Athrav Kotehal Gowdara for this initiative and expressed her appreciation at the huge participation and innovative solutions presented by the participants. She appreciated the competitive spirit of the Guyanese youth. The Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana Prof. Paloma Mohamed while commending the role by the various judges and mentors from the University of Guyana and the participants from the University of Guyana, also applauded the initiative and stated that University of Guyana stands ready to support such initiatives in the future. She appreciated the support by the High Commission of India to this initiative of Athrav.
The Overall winning team in the 14-17 years category was from Queen’s College School – comprising of Ms. Vasanna Persaud, Ms. Sameera Shaw and Ms. Anaaya Jain, who gave a solution to an education sector problem. The other winners in this category included teams from Marian Academy, Queen’s College and University of Guyana who presented projects in education, health and entrepreneurship sectors. The senior category of 18-21 years was won by a team from University of Guyana – Young Influencers Programme and included Ms. Terriann Wright, Andrew King and Jerry Collins. The other winning teams were from the University of Guyana and Amateur Groups – Chicken Fry Bytes and Ultimatus Electricus, who presented their projects in Environment and Education.
The winners of this Ideathon will now be encouraged to be a part of an Impact Lab which is proposed to be held (based on the availability of resources) in consultation and coordination with Office of the Prime Minister’s Industry and Innovation Unit, IDB Innovation Labs, V.75 Inc. TheBrainStreetGroup, Action Invest Caribbean Inc, University of Guyana etc. wherein their proposed solutions could be improved to a scalable level, bearing in mind the potential practicability of the solutions.
The event is deemed to have excited the youth of Guyana to participate in similar such events in the future and the potential spirit of innovation among these students. More details on the event are available at www.guyana-ideathon.com.