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MDX Lecturers and students win the Dell PolicyHack™

05/03/2017

Dr Belisa Marochi, Senior Lecturer in International Relations and her team won the Dell PolicyHack™, a competition organized by Dell and UN Foundation taking place on the margins of the World Government Summit in Dubai. 

Teams of policymakers, academics, entrepreneurs and representatives from NGOs had 60 minutes to hack their innovative policy solutions to global development challenges and present them to a panel of judges that included Her Highness Sheikha Shamma Bint Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan of the UAE, Jennifer Colville, Senior Innovation Officer of UN Development Programme and Ashish Thakkar, Founder of Mara Group and Mara Foundation.

Mr. Stephen King, lecturer in Media and students in BA Media, MA International Relations and MA Global Governance and Sustainable Development from Middlesex University also participated in the event.

"My experience at the Dell PolicyHack™ with the UN Foundation gave me hope for the future generation by hacking solutions to reach the Sustainable Development Goals" shared MA International Relations student Emmanuella Adesunloye. 

For more information on the MA International Relations and MA Global Governance and Sustainable Development programmes and other programmes offered by Middlesex University Dubai, please visit http://www.mdx.ac.ae/courses

Policymakers, entrepreneurs and people like me, representatives from NGOs, collaborated in teams with the opportunity to pitch our solutions to a panel of esteemed judges such as Her Highness Sheikha Shamma Bint Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan of the UAE and Jennifer Colville, Senior Innovation Officer, UN Development Programme.

The teams were delegated different themes and challenges. My team was challenged to find ways world governments can unleash and support entrepreneurship among marginalized groups such as refugees. Our main objective was to identify a specific barrier in societies and a policy solution that could remove this barrier for the target group. Quite the task for a 60-

We quickly identified that many refugees have entrepreneurial potential but lack access to support networks including mentoring, workspace, financing opportunities, and knowledge of the local regulatory frameworks. Furthermore, in many countries refugees are unable to work whilst their case is being processed. The solution we pitched to the judges and the participants at the event leveraged existing entrepreneurs and their networks in various societies. We also suggested that local governments partner with existing “entrepreneurial centers” (like the Impact Hub). In these co-working spaces, we would want local entrepreneurs to mentor refugees, build a support network, and teach local norms and laws for refugees to establish their own initiatives. The national government would, in an ideal world, provide financial incentives for these existing “centers” and establish a national competition among cities with the prize of a government grant to be invested in the local education system. From what our quick research showed, this is not somehing that exists as of today.

We believe that this idea should be adopted nationally but implemented locally. National government need to set incentives for existing entrepreneurial centers to take on a number of promising refugees. A competition among cities is one incentive, funding of spaces another. 5% of profits from successful refugee-founded initiatives could be invested back into the community centers to fuel the next generation of entrepreneurs!

After hearing the round up of presentations about several challenges and solutions connected to achieving the SDG’s, it was announced that the winning team would receive a commitment from the UN Foundation and Dell Inc. to champion the solution with UN policymakers. A lot was on stake. We crossed our fingers but it was difficult to believe that our pitch would be selected among the other amazing ideas and proposals. When Deepa Tharmaraj, Legal Director for Middle East, Africa and Turkey from Dell Inc. said that we were the winning group we jumped out of our chairs and howled with joy! Next step is to meet again soon and to write up a concept that we can share with interested.

Thank you Esther, Belisa, Frances and Maha for great work and than you DELL inc. and the UN Foundation for this opportunity! I am happy to be at the World Government Summit.

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