Fifteen teams in Guyana are set to compete in the 2023 Innovation Challenge organized by the Office of the Prime Minister’s Industry and Innovation Unit. The challenge, launched on Tuesday by Minister of Public Affairs, Kwame McCoy, is being sponsored exclusively by SBM Offshore Guyana, the builder and operator of the floating production storage and offloading units producing oil off the country’s coast.
The 2023 Innovation Challenge aims to showcase the technological innovation skills of local tech enthusiasts. With the theme “Transitioning through Innovation,” the three-day coding competition, commonly referred to as a ‘hackathon’, offers monetary prizes for the top three winners and the chance for them to participate in SBM Offshore Guyana’s paid internship programme.
The competition will take place from July 7 to July 9.
McCoy said the government is taking a multifaceted and sustainable approach to the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), which includes increasing the academic knowledge and qualifications of Guyanese.
“All of these are interlinked to our development as a country, not only that we provide the opportunities in ICTs, but in all other areas that are needed for our development,” he stated.
Participants are excited and optimistic as they undertake the task of developing ICT solutions to promote social, economic, technological, and environmental development in the country. Shemar Moore, a member of Team Logic, expressed his motivation to create technological solutions that benefit the people of Guyana and the wider region. This is Moore’s fourth time participating in a competition of this nature, and he finds inspiration in seeing people utilize the software and applications he helps develop.
Kristeen Chase from Team Legacy Technology shared her enthusiasm for the upcoming coding marathon. She acknowledged that she would have likely waited for such an opportunity to come to her in school, but through this competition, she is gaining valuable experience in creating innovative projects.
Patrice Harry, a participant from Team Skillshare, emphasized the importance of competitions like this in educating citizens and fostering innovation among local tech enthusiasts, especially as Guyana transitions to technology-based systems.
Garri Fraser, SBM Offshore Guyana’s Local Content Officer, highlighted the alignment of the Innovation Challenge with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal Nine—Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure. Fraser explained that the company is committed to nurturing and developing technical skills in Guyanese individuals. As part of this commitment, three participants from the competition will have the opportunity to secure a paid internship lasting three months with SBM Offshore Guyana.
“As we kick off Innovation Challenge 2023, I wish to convey best wishes to the participating teams. It is our hope that you will all look at utilising your skills to offer innovative and advanced solutions to the needs of the country, and to channel your skills beyond this competition,” he said.
Fraser also emphasized the significance of local content development to the company and described the Innovation Challenge as one of several initiatives aimed at equipping Guyanese with the knowledge and skills required in the oil and gas sector, and beyond.