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New technologies that solve civilizational challenges

Demography, health, education and ecology. New technologies are increasingly important for solving our most pressing problems.

The positive impact of technology on business has been talked about for a long time now and investment is following suit, such as cloud or artificial intelligence, which are increasing rapidly. Increasingly, new technologies are also finding their way to solving pressing global problems. Large corporations, researchers and students as well as start-ups from all over the world are working on this. 

“’New technologies have great potential to transform and support key socio-economic areas such as education, health, environment and the economy,” says Alicja Tatarczuk of Huawei. The conglomerate is looking for such innovative ideas among young scientists in its Tech4Good competition, which is part of the Seeds for the Future program.

“We are looking at how modern solutions, such as digitalization and the use of artificial intelligence, can increase the efficiency of healthcare while lowering its social costs. In the environmental field, renewable technologies such as photovoltaic panels and the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) to monitor air quality are a key part of the fight against climate change and pollution. In turn, automation and robotisation are becoming increasingly important in the context of demographic changes, and the adaptation of the education system to the new requirements of the labor market is becoming indispensable,” Alicja Tatarczuk, CSR manager at Huawei Poland, mentioned in an interview with the Newseria Biznes agency.

Young people have a big role to play in this respect. It is often in research groups at universities that innovations are created that are directed towards solving some important problem.

“The importance of educational initiatives that enable the development of technological skills and solutions to societal problems will continue to grow, as will the public’s awareness of these issues,” says Tatarczuk.

This is the focus of Seeds for the Future, Huawei’s flagship educational program, which has just been held in Poland for the 10th time. Fifty top students from Polish universities participated for a week in training and workshops led by world-class experts on the latest technology trends.

“Among other things, the students are learning about artificial intelligence solutions and how 5G will change our lives and how cloud solutions can serve business. They also take virtual tours of Chinese factories or innovation centers to see how this technological world is evolving in Asia, as well as participate in leadership classes and co-create international projects as part of the Tech4Good initiative, which serves to build skills in teamwork, project collaboration and provides opportunities for students on our program to forge international relationships. They collaborate with people from all over the world to create projects, mini-start-ups that engage technology to solve important social or environmental problems,” explains the CSR manager at Huawei Poland.

The Seeds for the Future program is aimed at the most talented students from universities, mainly those studying IT, engineering, technology or mathematics. Its aim is to develop talent in the field of ICT and prepare students to take their first steps in the professional world of new technologies.

“This year, more than 260 male and female students from all over the country applied for the Polish edition of Seeds for the Future. We had a huge problem choosing the top 50, as all the entries were of a really high quality. Once again, we have more than 50% women in this group, which shows that many female students are interested in science and new technologies, see their future careers in this industry and want to co-create this world,” says Tatarczuk.

“I have high hopes related to this program, e.g., meeting new people, having fun, working in an international environment and seeing how to work in a team that brings together people from several continents,” says Justyna Gręda, a student of Information and Communication Technology at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków, a participant in the program. 

“I use the knowledge of new technologies in my work every day, as I am a mobile application developer. Those gained during Seeds for the Future, especially in the field of artificial intelligence, will allow me to create something new and also develop my career,” she adds.

“The Seeds for the Future program is attractive to participants primarily because it allows them to get acquainted with the whole range of ICT technologies and confront their ideas, knowledge and competences with real, global world problems that we – future engineers and scientists – will have to face,” says Adam Sztamborski, a student at the Łódź University of Technology and a participant in the program. 

“I would be happy if in my work I could use this knowledge in solving problems concerning various aspects of life, including the environment, but also improving the quality of life and safety of people,” he says.

“The knowledge of new technologies can be very useful in the development of my project. My friends and I are running a project to minimize the amount of bio-waste in society and to act for the benefit of the environment,” says Daria Polcyn, a student at the University of Warsaw and a participant in the program. 

“Our project is called AVO Cycle and we want to take care of avocado seeds and the fruit that is no longer usable. We intend to work with local restaurants as well as supermarkets, larger suppliers of bio-waste, and we want to start by processing the seeds obtained from avocado fruit into bio-packaging and organic oils,” he says.

A new feature that has accompanied the Seeds for the Future program for the past two years is the Tech4Good competition, in which students – in a group of peers from all over the world – are challenged to design their own technology start-up answering one of the pressing global issues.

“Those who create the best ideas will go to a Talent Summit, organized by Huawei in a European capital. The best teams also have a chance to go to China and win $100,000 to develop the winning start-up,” says Tatarczuk.

Last year, the Polish team HuaSquad was recognized at the top of the Tech4Good competition as one of the six best-scoring projects from Europe.

“The agritech project we created was designed to connect farmers with young people who care about supporting organic food, organic farming,” explains Dominika Jacejko, a member of the HuaSquad team. 

“Winning the Tech4Good award was a really big test for us of what we are able to do, what we are able to achieve with our own hard work. Looking at how things are a year later, I think taking part in the competition itself also showed us the enormous power of networking. By creating such solutions, we let others know that we have great potential and this potential, thanks to Tech4Good among others, was later used in other projects as well,” she adds.

“The huge success of the previous, 9th, edition of Seeds for the Future, was finding the Polish HuaSquad team among the best teams taking part in the Tech4Good competition,” adds the CSR manager at Huawei Poland.

This is the second edition of the program in which the Polish project was among the most interesting positive impact technologies. Last year’s solution by Polish students from the Sensideer team was a system to inform vehicle drivers of a potential collision with animals on the road. Prepared as part of the 18th edition of Seeds for the Future, the solution made it to the final ten, opening up new development opportunities for the young participants.

Erol Dzhelik
Erol Dzhelik
I think we can overcome global challenges with mutual understanding, international cooperation and diplomacy. We offer you this insight at Poland Weekly.