A staple event of the Sri Lankan tech calendar, Season 9 Finale of the Yarl Geek Challenge (YGC) has come to an end. A competition organized annually by the Yarl IT Hub, the YGC is known to attract the best in entrepreneurship and technology from the Northern part of the country. Over the years, many of the ideas at the Yarl Geek Challenge have become successful startups. Today, the YGC alumnus consists of over 25+ successful companies in a variety of industries.

The Yarl Geek Challenge is one of many initiatives conducted by the Yarl IT Hub. A community-based volunteer organization, it focuses on supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in the Northern Province. Its vision is to work with the community and make Jaffna the next Silicon Valley. Towards this vision, beyond YGC, it’s pursuing numerous initiatives.

Among them is Uki (meaning catalyst in Tamil) is a coding school for underprivileged youth in the Northern Province. It exists to empower them with the skills needed to enter the IT industry. Another is Cutar, which is an initiative working towards encouraging women to join the IT industry. Notably, it also runs a makerspace in partnership with Hatch called Hatch Kalam. While these are only a few examples, the common thread tying together of the Yarl IT Hub’s initiatives is the focus towards empowering the youth of the Northern Province through entrepreneurship opportunities.

As always, the Yarl Geek Challenge consists of teams of 5. Each of these teams submits their proposal outlining the concept they’d like to work on for the competition. These proposals are reviewed by the organizers. Afterwards, a number of teams are shortlisted to participate in the competition.

Typically, the Yarl Geek Challenge consists of a 3-day hackathon. Over the course of these 3 days, teams would work towards building prototypes for their ideas. However, unlike the last 8 years, this years competition took place rather differently. Much like life in most of 2020, this years’ edition of YGC was held online.

The 9th Season of the Yarl Geek Challenge saw 45 teams participating in the initial hackathon. Of these participants, 12 teams were selected to proceed to the finale. After having a brief period to refine their ideas, the teams pitched their ideas to a panel of judges at the finale.