Georgia: encouraging global mindsets for global solutions

For Teimuraz Gochitashvili, a fourth year biology student at the Tbilisi State University, taking part in the NASA Space Apps Challenge was the opportunity of a lifetime. “For any young innovator with ambitions to solve a problem, this competition is the best possible environment,” says the student.

The problem that Teimuraz and his team of fellow students are looking to solve with their ‘Algien’ project is that of urban pollution and its contribution to climate change and ecological degradation. But in common with many young Georgians, access to the resources – including data – needed to make a meaningful contribution to breakthroughs in the world’s most pressing issues is a challenge for the enterprising students.

Through this event we had the privilege of learning from the best professionals in their field.

Teimuraz Gochitashvili
NASA Space Apps Challenge finalist

Those resources were in abundance at the local leg of NASA’s celebrated international hackathon, which invites participants to find solutions to global challenges using NASA-supplied data. Held at Georgia’s Abastumani Astrophysical Observatory, the event was co-organised by Tbilisi Startup Bureau and supported by Beeline Georgia. The latter provided financial support of over USD 3,000, plus promotional assistance and mentorship for 116 young hopefuls on the day.

Now, thanks to that opportunity, Teimuraz and his team are among the finalists for the competition’s international stage. “Through this event we had the privilege of learning from the best professionals in their field,” acknowledges the student.

Beeline Georgia’s support of the event makes a valuable contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goal 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) by fostering innovation and promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation. Crucially, says the operating company, it prompts contestants to adopt a global mindset, which is critical for a small country like Georgia. It also enables them to hone their skills using rich datasets, opening doors for a new generation of home-grown data scientists.

Results from the Georgian event bear this out, with innovations including clean water and energy solutions, and a method for providing internet access in open sea. As Teimuraz observes, events such as these provide “the right conditions for bringing ideas to fruition”.