Young women from around the globe tackle real-world problems with tech at Technovation event

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Friday, August 16, 2019
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Nearly 50 girls from around the globe combined technology and innovation during Technovation World Pitch Day.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- Technology and innovation are two very useful tools in any effort to help build a better Bay Area. In Santa Clara on Thursday, nearly 50 girls from around the globe combined the two during Technovation World Pitch Day.

Technovation is a global tech education nonprofit that empowers girls and families to become leaders, creators and problem-solvers. It offers two programs - Technovation Girls and Technovation Families - which bring kids and adults together to solve big problems in their communities.

Thursday night, a sea of flags from various countries proved the world is connected through tech. The event brought together 12 groups of girls between the ages of 10 to 18, who used their phones to fix faults at home.

The Senior Division welcomed girls ages 15 to 18. The Junior Division welcomed girls from 10 to 14-years-old.

Technovation Founder and CEO, Tara Chklovski explained the teams invited Thursday night were flown in from around the globe, "Cambodia, Albania, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Bolivia, and of course, from across the U.S. as well."

"If you want to create technology that is going to change the world," Chklovski said, "You do want to listen to people from all around the world."

ABC7 News Reporter Kris Reyes served as emcee for the event, as each group pitched to a panel of judges and investors.

Chklovski said the groups were challenged with identifying an issue within their own community and creating an app to solve it.

"It's always very different from what Silicon Valley thinks is relevant and critical," Chklovski added.

The task uncovered topics like opioid addiction, pollution, water and women's safety, among other issues.

A full list of teams and their identified problems, solutions and goals could be found here.

A group from Canada took on social anxiety.

"We realized that it wasn't only girls that faced this problem," 11-year-old Tito Akinlosotu said. "It was boys and kids everywhere, of all ages. So, we thought that this would impact a lot of people."

In front of a packed house, the group detailed how app users could maneuver through the "Cloud9" app to achieve mental clarity.

Within the senior division, conflict in Ukraine led teens from "Team Prove IT" to model their business plan around homelessness in the country.

"There are a lot of homeless people in our country because there is a war," Varvara Ovcharenko told ABC7 News. "So the number of homeless people, it grows and grows."

Their "Meal for Will" app would connect restaurants with any leftover, quality food to those struggling to find a food source.

The night of networking brought on the celebration of the global community of young women in tech and business.

"When else would you get an opportunity to listen to young girls from all around the world, from countries that you would never think are leading technology innovation," Chklovski asked.

"Every year, we see more and more interesting ideas and higher technical content," she said. "And higher technical innovation because these girls are capable of so much."

Chklovski said the event is a call to the tech industry and educational institutions to think a bit bolder and move beyond simply teaching people the skills of technology and coding.

"The workforce of the future is one where humans are working alongside machines," she said. "So we really need to understand and constantly reevaluate our skills and creativity, bringing core values to innovation."

Winning teams took home up to $15,000 in scholarship money.

The results:

  • 1st Place Senior Division - D3c0ders from Albania: GjejZ is an app to help abused women. GjejZ offers a test to diagnose your situation, breaks myths about domestic violence, shares success stories from other survivors, provides calming exercises, and offers legal, psychological and medical consultation options. GjejZ also has an opportunities feature to help women find jobs, and an SOS menu with emergency hotlines.
  • 2nd Place Senior Division - Uproot from U.S.: Uproot is an iOS application that addresses noxious and invasive weed species, specifically targeting the harmful effects of these plants on California agriculture. Users can identify weeds on-the-spot with powerful machine learning technology or search a synonym-supported index of officially listed noxious weeds. Uproot also curates and returns information on any recognized weed and provides tools for weed control.
  • 1st Place Junior Division - Social Relay from India: Baton is an app designed to maximize the social impact of initiatives started by social work interns or students in underserved communities after the students' internships end. Baton hands over incomplete social work initiatives from one intern to another, collaborating with NGOs, institutions and corporations to ensure confidentiality and social impact is maintained.
  • 2nd Place Junior Division - Litertree from Cambodia: Khmer poetry is at risk of being forgotten due to its massive loss during the Khmer Rouge Genocide. Naeng-Norng (translated as 'rhyme and rhythm') is a platform dedicated to preserving this declining language by allowing readers and authors to connect through Khmer poetry.
  • People's Choice: Brainsquad from Nigeria: The Hands Out app allows well-meaning people all over the world to easily donate to children and their families to help them pay for school fees, food, shoes, books, stationary, medication and more.