Since 2019, Moscow Agency of Innovations hosts an annual international competition for the Moscow Mayor’s award “Leaders of Digital Transformation” that brings together students, graduates, and IT specialists from Russia and beyond to collectively create new products and services that solve tasks set by the city administration.
After registration, participants (data scientists/engineers, front/back/fullstack developers, UX/UI designers, product/project managers, analysts and IT entrepreneurs) form teams of 2-5 people and choose a task they are willing to solve. The customer (one of the city administration departments) provides technical specifications for the task and additional info during Q&A sessions and educational events. Ready solutions undergo a technical expertise, and the finalists present their projects during a pitch session. The winning teams receive not only money prizes, but also the support of the city administration in further development of their projects, including testing it in the real conditions. As a result, the best solutions are brought to the market and implemented in the city.
The first key goal of the project is to support IT talents, contribute to the emergence of new creative teams, informal networks and innovative ideas. The second one is to provide young talents with a mechanism to channel their ideas, shape them into concrete IT products, and help refine and market these products. Thereby, the project contributes to formation of new startups and serves as a policy tool that makes city innovation policy more transparent: young innovators can claim their “right to the city” by implementing their solutions in practice.
Since 2019, more than 15,000 IT specialists from 79 regions of the Russian Federation and other countries (such as China, Israel, Indonesia, Kazakhstan) have participated in the competition. “Leaders of Digital Transformation” has become a strong and motivated IT community that developed more than 1,000 relevant digital products and services, and founded more than 50 startups, that conducted pilot tests and implemented more than 20 solutions in the city. The project has more than 100 partners (IT and EdTech companies, universities, accelerators, etc.) that support the participants.
All in all, the project contributes to promotion of ICTs for urban development, to the creation of open innovations, and to a number of Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDGs 8, 9 and 17. The project has a high replicability potential: its methodology can be applied at various levels and by different institutions.