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Coding the City of Tomorrow

By Tony Graziano, Vice-President of Huawei’s EU Public Affairs Office

Wouldn’t it be handy to know which of the people participating in the same event as you share your interests? Well, now there’s an app for that. Thanks to the winning team at the EU-China App Hackathon, the COCOFFEE app will soon enable us to network more efficiently at conferences, by connecting with other participants based on common interests. The project, jointly developed by Dawid Cieślak from Warsaw in Poland and Li Yanzhong from Guangzhou in China, was just awarded the first prize at the final event of the InnoApps competition.

The contest, which we organised together with EYIF, challenged candidates to design mobile applications contributing to making our cities smarter. Adding a new twist to this year’s contest, young participants from Europe and China paired up through an online platform. During the ‘hackathon’, the six finalist teams met in Brussels to jointly develop their apps.

Building bridges out of ones and zeros

When young coders reach out to their peers on the other side of the globe to reinvent the way we live, the results are bound to amaze. This week’s ‘hackathon’ was an illustration of how we can foster innovation by enabling talented young people to make the most of their potential, creating the right connections and stimulating interactive learning.

Today’s generation of young graduates starts out in working life with a most valuable asset, but facing an unprecedented challenge – in other words, the stakes are high, both for them and for us. Those digital natives are equipped, almost from birth, with skills that generations like mine had to work hard to acquire, and connecting with others to share ideas has never been easier.

Transforming those ideas into actual business projects, however, means navigating an increasingly complex working environment in which the requirements are as varied as the opportunities on offer. A technology-driven, globalised marketplace involves an increasing need for intercultural competencies, a knowledge of several languages, the constant upgrading of technical skills, as well as a feel for networking and an ability to think outside the box.

In Europe, the coexistence of high youth unemployment with a shortage of skilled ICT workers indicates that educational systems are struggling to adapt to this rapidly changing business environment.

Helping young people help themselves – and others

The private sector can make an important contribution to bridging this gap. As a global innovation leader, Huawei has recognised the key role it can play in giving a leg up to young people with an innovative mindset. The annual InnoApps contest is one of our flagship initiatives for young Europeans seeking to start their own ICT business.

Our Telecom Seeds for the Future Programme is another key example of our approach to skills training. Currently covering 18 European countries, the programme enables talented undergraduates to receive hands-on work experience at Huawei’s global headquarters in China, providing them with important insights into the workings of a global ICT company. Over 400 young Europeans have participated in the initiative so far.

‘As you sow so shall you reap’, the saying goes. Providing incentives for creating tools that make city life easier, greener and more inclusive for all of us is certainly a rewarding experience. As our InnoApps winners keep raising the bar for those following in their footsteps, what might next year’s winning app look like?

Watch this space!

www.innoapps.eu

www.huawei.eu

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