CodeTheCurve: Youth innovators hacking their way to surmount COVID-19 challenges

04 - Quality Education
05 - Gender Equality
17 - Partnerships for the Goals

When :

from Monday 6 April, 2020
to Thursday 30 April, 2020

Contact :

Davide Storti (

During the first half of April, more than 200 teams from all over the world actively participated in CodeTheCurve, a virtual hackathon calling for innovative ideas to combat the global pandemic. Organized by UNESCO, IBM, and SAP, CodeTheCurve now shifts into its second phase with 40 selected teams from nearly 25 countries competing for a position in the finals.

In response to UNESCO’s call for submissions, the over 200 applying teams shared ideas to fight back pandemic challenges, displaying a rich amount of insight, creativity and strategic problem-solving skills. Setting out to define the most urgent issues facing their local or global communities and incorporating fact-based data, the applications showcased the technical solutions envisaged by the teams if given the opportunity to participate in the CodeTheCurve learning and hackathon journey.

Students, educators, researchers, developers, and data scientists from scores of countries from around the world teamed-up to submit ideas addressing three pandemic-related challenges:

  1. Ensuring Continued Learning;
  2. Information and Data Management;
  3. Social and Health Issues.

The projects

Submissions were varied and inclusive, spanning across all walks of life and from around the globe. The proposed solutions targeted problems specific to the elderly, women and girls, disadvantaged communities, youth, victims of domestic violence and abuse, the medical community, small business leaders, and many other communities and groups disproportionately impacted by the ongoing health emergency.. The problems identified by participants included the impact of COVID-19 on social distancing, employment and employability, access to information, media misinformation and disinformation, access to goods and services, data management and sharing, psychological issues, quality education, and other challenges affecting millions of persons worldwide. Participants presented their solutions including through architectural diagrams and technical roadmaps, envisioning innovative use of mobile application development, web development, blockchain, machine learning, data and analytics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, internet of things, and more.

The theme ‘Ensuring Continued Education’ attracted 55 admitted video submissions. These included lessons by mobile SMS, web solutions, mobile apps, and the establishment of e-campus solutions. The second theme, ‘Information and Data Management’ obtained 45 video submissions,  proposing tools to fight disinformation, platforms to encourage cooperation among vaccine researchers worldwide, data sharing for research and business communities, and other ideas for opportunities to leverage data and analytics, natural language processing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Lastly, ‘Societal and Health Issues’ received 99 video responses with solutions varying from how to leverage community mutual aid in lockdown situations, to employment issues and what collaboration is needed to improve access to healthcare solutions and materials.

CodeTheCurve was designed to inspire youth to respond to the global crisis: the response to this public-private partnership effort and the impressive variety of ideas received by young innovators around the world are very encouraging, especially since many of the teams are actually made up of young women and men from different countries

Moez Chakchouk, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information

The Hackathon

CodeTheCurve has set as its mission to support and further develop original solutions created by the world’s digital nomads in response to the most pressing and at times unprecedented challenges facing communities across the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. To fulfill this mission, CodeTheCurve will host the 40 selected teams in an online, immersive environment where they can meet and exchange with expert mentors and create data models and digital prototypes for deployable solutions.

Thanks to the support of around fifteen partners, and more than 80 volunteers from IBM, SAP and UNESCO skilled with technology and/or business backgrounds, the 40 projects have now been selected and can successfully step-up to the second phase of the competition, which takes place starting on April 21.To help turning these innovative concepts and technical solutions into reality, teams will receive more than 20 hours of online training from 20 expert business and technical leaders, getting the opportunity to engage in a collaborative and stimulating environment.

The training tracks will include topics such as design thinking, managing virtual and cross functional teams, conflict resolution, storytelling, personal branding, entrepreneurship, data protection and privacy, machine learning, artificial intelligence, media and information literacy, IBM Z and a roll-up-your-sleeves machine learning code lab. In addition to the comprehensive trainings, more than 80 international experts from UNESCO, IBM, SAP, Internet Society, and other partners will provide mentorship to the 40 teams across a variety of fields to further support them in developing their solutions.

The IBM Z team has been absolutely thrilled with the overwhelming global response and excitement from all participating teams. Having access to virtual learning and hacking opportunities, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with industry experts during these difficult times enable youth from around the world to pick up new skills and help to make the world a better place.

Melissa Sassi, Chief Penguin, IBM

The prizes

After the three-day intense hackathon, scheduled 24-26 April 2020, the teams will pitch their creative solutions through a video clip, which will be rated by a jury of thought leaders from UNESCO, International Telecommunication Union, IBM Z, SAP, and other prominent organizations. Nine teams will qualify as finalists, and the grand winner for each of the qualified themes, as well as a master CodeTheCurve winner, will be announced on 30 April 2020.

IBM will award the winning teams from each of the three tracks with one year access to IBM LinuxONE Community Cloud, and one year of quarterly mentorship calls with IBM executives and/or its network. Additionally, IBM Z will award the first place in the Information and Data track with six months access to IBM Z, an enterprise-grade suite of machine learning and complex data processing solutions. The winners will also be invited to two virtual events, allowing them to showcase their solutions and their journey there to IBM employees, influencers, and IBM’s network of global collaborators.

SAP will award the winners an all-expense paid trip in 2021 to a key SAP event, to showcase their innovative COVID-19 solutions to the SAP ecosystem comprising hundreds of customers, partners, influencers and media. In addition, SAP will provide six months mentorship from a team of global experts and guided support on the ‘OpenSAP’ learning platform.

Economic, corporate and international travel conditions permitting, SAP Labs Ireland will also welcome one of the winning teams for an internship, giving them the opportunity to bring their X factor to highly innovative projects that help the world run better and improve people’s lives.

Liam Ryan, Managing Director of SAP Labs Ireland.

Behind the scenes

CodeTheCurve is powered by UNESCO, IBM Z and SAP with the support of UN EQUALS, TruChallenge, AngelHack, iHackOnline, Internet Society, People Centered Internet, FOSSASIA, Global Accelerator Network, Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, REDDS Capital, Village Capital, YPO, and Queen City Fintech.