The Accenture Digital Connected Hackathon was held internationally in collaboration with Expo 2020 Dubai, and in the UAE in partnership with Etisalat Digital. The event took place in Dubai and seven other cities in Europe and the Middle East simultaneously: Rome, London, Madrid, Amsterdam, Dortmund, Prague, Istanbul and Dubai.

This international collaboration between Accenture Digital, Expo2020 Dubai, and Etisalat Digital in the UAE aims at helping youth in realizing their technology projects through the “Connect. Collaborate. Create” competition. The main goal of this contest was to encourage collaboration and inspire the creation of social innovation projects for a more inclusive future.



Talking about this successful hackathon, Tony G. Karam, Managing Director, Accenture Digital said: “This competition comes in line with our commitment to innovation and the UAE vision 2021. We want to contribute in making Dubai and the UAE one of the most innovative countries in the world. We believe this is part of our social commitment, but we also believe that innovation is core to what we do every day.”


From his side, Francisco Salcedo, Seniore Vice President, Etisalat Digital confirmed that Etisalat’s participation in this event aims at fostering innovative ideas by supporting budding entrepreneurs and allowing them to experiment with the latest technologies. “We are very happy to participate in this hackathon. This is a proof that the UAE is a great country for innovation. Big companies like us cannot rely on themselves to innovate each one of the verticals that will be impacted by technology. We need to open our company to work with our partners and most of all with new players like startups and young entrepreneurs. We have the platforms, we have the money and means, but we don’t always have the ideas and sometimes we don’t have the agility. Startups bring energy; thus, we need to connect with them to help them bring better solutions to our customers, and energize the company as well as refresh the corporate culture.”

Marjan Faraidooni, Vice President Legacy, Expo 2020 Dubai was also impressed by the hackathon. Commenting on their participation, she said, “Expo 2020 supports innovation and creativity. Accenture came to us with this amazing idea of a Hackathon that is in line with our values of supporting innovation. So, it was a natural fit and we wanted to be part of supporting the community and trying to seek solutions for global changes. We are very impressed with, not only the fantastic concepts that the participants had, but by their energy, creativity and their willingness to showcase their ideas.”

Participants were asked to create innovative ideas focusing on the three themes at the centre of the World Expo to be held in Dubai in 2020-21: Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability, inspired by Expo 2020 Dubai’s core theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.

“We had 293 participants organized in 62 teams across the eight cities including 8 teams in Dubai. The competition was quite hot; we have seen a lot of good ideas and the teams worked hard to produce impressive solutions,” Tony explained.


The jury made their decisions based on several criteria, mainly the concept, design, presentation and the ability of putting the idea to work. The winning team in Dubai was Team “Squirrels”, which consists of energy expert Charles Blaschke, design genius Sarah Hamawi, programming wizard Ali Obeid and branding and marketing expert Vivek Mehta.

Passionate about giving back to the nation and the world, Squirrels’ idea ‘TAQAS’, is an innovative solution that helps individuals reduce their energy consumption and utility bills in their homes. Using gamification and sharing, it compares members of a specific community to its peers, global communities and competitions to show how they perform and make an impact on the largest challenge of our time, climate change. Using this tool, individuals will have the power to not only save money, but do their part in creating a truly sustainable, connected digital future. The team built a completely functional android app including code comments and open source libraries.


Elaborating furthermore on their idea, the team explained, “We created a tool that helps people save energy, water and money in their homes and reduce the impact on global climate change. Our plan now is to work with B2B partners including building owners, operators and managers, utility and telecom companies, who already have a captive user base.”

They also affirmed that this competition has given them a platform to communicate and educate people about the impact of climate change. “The idea that we developed over the weekend at the Accenture Hackathon was a technology and platform that help individuals save energy and money in their homes.  The buildings and homes we live, work and play in consume twice as much energy and water as they should.  We want to put the tool in the hands of millions of people worldwide to help them save, and do their part to combat climate change.  Think of it as your personal energy advisor, always there to answer and provide solutions to your energy, carbon and cost.  Dubai wants to become the world’s most sustainable city by 2030, the only way for that to happen is if all of us are high-performing and sustainable.  Currently we are a long way from that. The tool will do 4 main things;

  1. Track – See in real time where and how you use your energy consumption.  Studies have shown that this information alone save 3% of energy across a large population.  Think of FitBit but for your energy.
  2. Save – We provide custom, specific ways to save in your home, based on your actual needs.  This is something no other technology in the world can do.  We do this by knowing your apartment or home (ie change your light bulbs, you will save AED 1,200 per year).  We provide the qualified providers to do this for you at the click of a button through our platform.
  3. Compete – Challenge and gamify savings and energy with social media and challenges with your friends.  You can see how you compare in your building, neighborhood or against your friends.  Most importantly you see how you compare against the world and if you are helping, or contributing to climate change.
  4. Learn – New, tips, tricks and direct recommendations from others in your building or neighborhood on how to save.”

The team affirmed that residents of the UAE could easily save 30% of their energy with simple action. “We will distribute through our B2B partners and customers, including, but not limited to building/community owners, operators and managers (think Emaar, JLL, Colliers), utility companies (DEWA, Empower etc), telecoms (du, Etisalat) and NGOs (EWS-WWF, Dubai Carbon).  All of these have millions of captive users who want to save, and in turn these B2B partners add value to their offering, can make addition revenue through services and increase their CSR and brand through energy and carbon savings.”


Local winners:

  • 1st place: Team “Squirrels” from Dubai with project “TAQAS”, an innovative solution that helps individuals reduce their energy consumption and utility bills in their homes.
  • 2nd place: Team “Look Ateam” from Dubai with project “Connected Life @work”, a solution that uses biometrics and vital data from users to help them in case of emergency.
  • 3rd place: Team “Kaprix” from Dubai with project “Online/offline refugee rescue circle”, a crisis management that will be used by rescue volunteers and refugees to alert and broadcast an emergency.

International winners:

  • 1st place: Team “Portakal” from Istanbul with project “Planty”, a mobile integrated kit for micro farming that empowers individuals who parted away from the nature to reconnect with it by easily guiding and educating them.
  • 2nd place: Team “AGerman” from Dortmund with project “#CryptoVote”, an intuitive web interface that solves the problem of possible manipulations of elections
  • 3rd place: Team “Squirrels” from Dubai with project “TAQAS”, an innovative solution that helps individuals reduce their energy consumption and utility bills in their homes.


AXIR Consulting

The overall, international winning team, awarded with a €1000 voucher and a trip to Dubai to present its project to the organizers of Expo 2020 Dubai, was Portakal. Their project, “Planty”, was an integrated, mobile  kit for micro farming that allows people living in urban areas with limited access to space, soil and water to grow their own fruit and vegetables, and at the same time to reconnect with nature. Planty brought together a range of simple equipment and digital tools to educate and guide users.