NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), in partnership with Tamkeen, has concluded the NYUAD Hackathon for Social Good in the Arab World. The 12th edition of the annual event focused on tackling challenges and identifying solutions in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) using cutting-edge quantum computing (QC) and artificial intelligence (AI).

QGasbusters won the first place for this year’s Hackathon, team QMarjan won the second place, and teams aQua, and Aman tied for third place. They ranked the highest among 180 students from 50 countries, who were guided throughout the event by world-leading experts from NYU, IBM, ETH Zürich, Stanford, Yale, MIT, and more who collaborated as mentors, judges, partners, and speakers.

The Open Quantum Institute (OQI), an initiative hosted by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, born at Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA), and supported by UBS, is a strategic partner of NYUAD. OQI has granted prizes to the top winners, which offer access to mentorship, industry networking opportunities, academic research, and an open invitation to attend the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipation Summit in October in Geneva during which diplomats, UN leaders, scientists, and business leaders gather to discuss science diplomacy challenges and opportunities. They will be connected with quantum investors, business leaders, and scientists who will help further mature their idea and accelerate its real-world implementation.

Winning teams will also receive a one-session mentorship with the Womanium Quantum team. This includes a non-binding interview for the Womanium Quantum Solutions Launchpad (QSL). QSL is a paid internship program that offers hands-on experience on high-impact quantum computing projects, collaborating with leading national labs and industries.

All hackathon participants will receive a full scholarship to participate in the Online Summer Womanium Quantum+AI Training Program 2024.

Sana Odeh, NYUAD Affiliated Faculty and Clinical Professor of Computer Science, who founded and organised the event, said: "The NYUAD International Hackathon for Social Good has once again demonstrated the important role that quantum computing can play in making a positive impact on society in the Arab World and beyond. Furthermore, I am pleased that we are able to contribute to the UAE’s vision to become a leading nation in AI, in alignment with the UAE Centennial 2071, by equipping a future generation of innovators with the knowledge and tools to explore solutions for upward growth in quantum computing and AI.

"As we face greater social and environmental challenges, the need to focus our resources and energy on bringing about sustainable change growth, and the results of this year’s Hackathon are one step forward in the right direction.

I am extremely grateful to everyone who participated, along with the mentors and judges who provided invaluable counsel, and our partners and sponsors who have all helped make this event a great success."

In first place was team QGasBusters, who also won the Audience Award, through their project aimed at protecting critical infrastructure by instantly detecting pipeline anomalies, and optimally allocating emergency resources using Quantum Sensing and Machine Learning. In second place, was team QMarjan with their project aimed at helping to identify optimal spots to achieve the highest coral restoration with limited resources.

Tied for third place were the team aQua and team Aman. Team aQua’s set out to identify how to remove harmful molecules from water supplies to make them drinkable, while team Aman aimed to aid civilians with efficient coordination of emergency services in times of crisis by facilitating access to food and shelters using quantum-enhanced machine learning.

Participants explored quantum computing solutions to a wide range of challenging projects from machine learning and AI to physics (complex simulation problems), chemistry, computer science, healthcare, math, to online gaming, security, social sciences, and the arts (quantum-generated artwork).

Experts from world-leading institutions, including NYU, Zürich, American University of Beirut, MIT, Khalifa University, and Stanford, acted as a source of sponsorship and mentorship to the students, sharing their experiences and insights into the world of tech startups as well as academic research.

Leaders in the quantum computing and SDG fields delivered keynote speeches. These included Core42 Senior Director AI and Data Solutions Dr Abdullah Al Shimmari, Executive Director of the Quantum Center at ETH in Zurich, Switzerland  Philipp Kammerlander, Zurich, Switzerland, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Xanadu Christian Weedbrook, a leading Canadian quantum technology company building fault-tolerant quantum computers using light, and a Professor at the Raman Research Institute (RRI) Urbasi Sinha, who also serves as an Associate Faculty member at Institute of Quantum Computing in Canada and an Adjunct Faculty Member at the University of Calgary, Canada.

The NYUAD Hackathon is one of the leading regional hackathons and is supported by top global quantum computing experts from both industry and academia, such as NYUAD Center for Quantum and Topological Systems, Open Quantum Institute (OQI), G42, Core42, Technology Innovation Institute (TII),  Florin Court Capital, PASQAL, SandboxAQ, Xanadu, qBraid, QWorld,  NiEW, Womanium Quantum, ETH Zurich in Quantum Information and Computation, Zurich EPFL Center for Quantum Science and Engineering (QSE Center), MIT’s iQuHACK, QC Hack (Yale, Stanford, and Berkeley QC Hackathon) Quantum Coalition, QUAE, among others.