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UN and Hackster.io partner up to take on COVID-19 in developing countries

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Hackster.io, an online open-source technology hardware community, have jointly announced their partnership to create open-source technology that developing countries can leverage to fight against COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Detect and Protect Challenge calls on engineers to design low-cost and easily deployable software, hardware and services to support the detection and prevention of COVID-19 in some of the world's most vulnerable areas.

The UNDP says the challenge will distribute prizes awarded to the top ten solutions, and Avnet, Hackster.io’s parent company, will provide support to accelerate the winners’ time to market by offering business consultation and access to engineering, design and manufacturing resources.

"We are proud to partner with the UNDP to activate local technology ecosystems to develop, shape and implement open-source solutions that can help detect and protect against COVID-19 around the world,” says Avnet chief executive officer Bill Amelio. 

“It's truly a global collaboration, with a longer-term and positive multiplier effect.”

The COVID-19 Detect and Protect Challenge aims to realise 10 economical and easy-to-produce hardware solutions to strengthen detection and prevention efforts, minimising the strain on healthcare systems. 

Projects will be curated by Hackster and the UNDP, which will also work with each creator to deploy their projects to the frontlines where it is needed most.

"We're turning to our network of developers and partners to share their ideas and designs with those who need them the most," says Hackster.io co-founder Adam Benzion. 

"Through this challenge, we hope to bring forward some truly unique solutions that could make a real impact on the global fight against COVID-19."

The UNDP says its Global Centre for Technology, Innovation and Sustainable Development, Singapore will work with country offices and partner tech companies to meet the needs of countries with lack of resources where COVID-19 could have the greatest impact. 

“The COVID-19 Detect and Protect Challenge aims to surface innovative solutions that developing countries can immediately use to tackle the pandemic – that could be everything from new 3D-printable protective equipment to software that can detect future outbreaks,” says UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.

“Utilising UNDP's global network and the diverse resources of our supporting partners, we will work with the winning creators to disseminate this knowledge  and assist those who are hardest hit by the pandemic.”

This global challenge builds on exciting initiatives like the 'Global Hack' and others that are galvanizing the broader tech community to find urgent solutions for COVID-19.