Education, Government, News, Policy, Reduce Pollution

Breathe Mongolia Co-hosts UNLEASH Hacks Mongolia 2021

06 · Aug · 2021
Photograph by: A photo collage of the 2021 Hackathon participants | UNLEASH Hacks Mongolia

Written by Jenny Han Simon and Oyun-Erdene Sainbayar

June 26th marked the start of the 2021 UNLEASH Hacks Mongolia—a two-week online hackathon that brought together young Mongolians interested in STEM with scientists, engineers, and other experts from a variety of disciplines. In all, there were 75 “talents” (participants) selected from over 250 applicants in this year’s hackathon, which focused on addressing air pollution via digital and technological solutions with five subthemes: (1) air quality monitoring (2) communication & advocacy on air pollution (3) vehicle emissions (4) indoor air pollution and (5) pollution in the ger district. 

The opportunity to work with UNLEASH Hacks Mongolia was originally identified by Breathe Mongolia’s  Community Manager Oyun-Erdene (Oku) Sainbayar, whereafter Breathe Mongolia was asked to co-host the event in April 2021. “Hackathons are collaborative & innovative in nature and offer tangible solutions as a result. Hackathons are a great place to invite various stakeholders to collaborate, brainstorm, and develop solutions for the most pressing issues,” said Oku.Breathe Mongolia was very eager to accept the invitation to co-host UNLEASH Hacks Mongolia 2021 for several reasons: first, it was to be held during the summertime, which is the season when people usually forget about air pollution. Second, it allowed us to utilize and build our network; this is crucial in the fight against air pollution. We brought experts, sponsors, and other stakeholders together. Lastly, the Hackathon was an event in Mongolia. Since most of our team is remote, it was a nice opportunity to collaborate with people in Mongolia.”

Breathe Mongolia worked with UNLEASH Hacks Mongolia on developing the concept for this year’s hackathon, aided in the creation and promotion of social media content, and helped identify and recruit experts and speakers. Breathe Mongolia also created a handbook on Mongolia’s air pollution crisis for this year’s participants to give them a solid background and understanding of the science, history, and economic factors of this issue. 

All three of Breathe Mongolia’s co-founders spoke as subject matter experts during the hackathon, sharing their experience and expertise with the young and eager participants. Co-founder and CEO of Breathe Mongolia Azjargal Tsogtsaikhan, led a Clubhouse discussion on “Air Pollution and Youth;” co-founder and IT-lead Uyanga Ganbaataar consulted with participating teams and shared how she used her thorough experience in the tech industry to further Breathe Mongolia’s mission to end air pollution. Co-founder and advisor Oyungerel Munkhbat spent hours talking to and guiding teams to come up with their solutions. “I really loved seeing how much insight the participants were gaining throughout the hackathon,” Oyungerel said. “And how some even tried to tackle the source problem with simple but impactful digital solutions.”

Collage of advisors for UNLEASH hacks 2021
A promotional photo from UNLEASH Hacks Mongolia’s Facebook page showcasing some experts, including two of Breathe Mongolia’s very own: Uyanga Ganbaatar (second from the top left) and Oyungerel Munkhbat (bottom-middle).

On July 3rd (day two of the hackathon), each team was required to pitch their solution within minutes, and judges rated their solution based on innovation, impact, viability, and performability. After 30 minutes of discussion between the four judges, these were the final results for the 2021 UNLEASH Hacks Mongolia event:

1st place – Team 10 AirNomads (4 million MNT)

2nd place – Team 6 (2.5 million MNT)

3rd place – Team 3 (1.5 million MNT)

Special grant funded by Steppe Group – Team 7 GreenUB (5 million MNT)

Congratulations to the successful four teams for dreaming big and letting innovation lead the way toward a brighter future! Breathe Mongolia looks forward to seeing your solutions become reality in the coming months. We thank all the organizers, sponsors, judges, facilitators, guest speakers, volunteers, and participants of this year’s hackathon. Air pollution and climate change-related issues are immense and cannot be tackled alone. Any solution, in Mongolia or elsewhere, will require the hard work and expertise of many dedicated professionals. Breathe Mongolia is always happy to be part of the solution.

Learn more about Breathe Mongolia’s mission by reading more on our About Us page. Additionally, check out the resources on our website, and stay up-to-date on our fight against air pollution by checking Agaarneg.mn.

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