The Open Contracting Innovation Challenge calls for applicants working with open data to strengthen the integrity and effectiveness of public procurement. In this blog, Innovation Consultant Tom Hunter recounts the first international meetup of the challenge held in Ukraine

Kiev. CC BY 2.0, uploaded by Juanedc.

It’s a warm, lovely evening in Kiev in late April. A committed group of businessmen, academics and members of Ukraine’s civil society are in a small room at the KSE, the Kiev School of Economics. They are here at one of our local ‘meetups’ to discuss the Open Contracting Innovation Challenge (OCIC), a $60,000 global challenge prize run by the Open Contracting Partnership and the ODI.

Many had applications they were working on. Some were simply intrigued. Ukraine is the perfect location for our first meetup, given its recent radical shifts in public procurement. Its flagship success story, Prozorro, for example, has become a leading international example for e-procurement systems.

So what is the Open Contracting Innovation Challenge? OCIC invites innovators from across the world to provide data-driven solutions to strengthen the integrity and effectiveness of public procurement. Six finalists will be announced in June and receive $5,000 as well as three months of incubation and specialist support before pitching for the grand prize of $30,000. We’ve already received applications from countries as far flung as the Czech Republic, South Africa and Mexico.

At the ODI, it’s incredibly exciting for us to be involved in a truly global challenges, having worked previously on challenge series in the UK and South Africa. Advances in technology now make global challenges possible by allowing us to comfortably communicate with and receive applications from teams around the world.

However, we know that face-to-face interaction remains key in building a community and attracting applications. That’s why we’ve organised meetups in several continents around the world.

Last week one took place in Mexico City, thanks to help from our friends at Pides, and we have also had one in Durban hosted by the good folks at Geekulcha. We also plan to launch one in Malaysia to ensure our Asian friends can participate.

So if you have an idea, get involved! The deadline for applications is 24 May, and we recommend starting an application sooner rather than later (you can save your responses and come back to them at a later date). To apply, click here.

Tom Hunter is Innovation Consultant at the ODI. Follow @TimMcCraeHunter on Twitter.