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17 June, 2016 - 11:57 By Kate Sweeney

Cambridge tech community wades into world refugee crisis

The Cambridge tech community has pitched in to an initiative designed to identify and deliver technology solutions to tackle the world’s growing refugee crisis.

Entrepreneurs and tech industry workers in the UK’s leading innovation cluster are engaging with non government organisations and grassroots bodies at a Cambridge conference in July.

The initiative is being driven by Techfugees, an organisation founded by TechCrunch editor Mike Butcher, who received an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list. He has praised the new Cambridge chapter of Techfugees for its determination to help improve the lot of refugees across the globe.

The Techfugees Cambridge Conference is being held on Saturday July 2 from 10.00-17.00 at Botanic House, 112 Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 0PY. Tickets are free and available on

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there are now 20 million refugees fleeing war and persecution with an additional 40 million internally displaced people – the highest number since 1992. 

The Techfugees initiative first launched in 2015 as a response to the escalating plight of refugees and now has over 25 chapters around the world. The conference on July 2 marks the first event held by the new Cambridge Chapter.

The conference will bring together developers, designers, engineers and academics from the Cambridge community together with refugees and NGOs to discuss, identify and workshop solutions around key themes. These include delivering internet access at refugee camps, improving refugee security and safety, and providing access to training, education and jobs. 

NGOs and grassroots organisations will have the opportunity at the conference to pitch their needs to the technology, academic and funder community for further development. 

Speakers at the conference include Evert Bopp, CEO of Disaster Tech Labs; Dr Arjuna Sathiaseelan – Lead of the Networking for Development Lab, University of Cambridge; Hassan Akkad, a Syrian refugee who spent two months at the Calais camp; and Rachel Mantell from Calais People 2 People.

Techfugee Cambridge spokesperson Tony King said: “Cambridge is unique in the breadth and depth of talent it has to offer. In our day jobs, we address global challenges in areas including medicine, energy, the environment, supply chain management and materials.

“We’re bringing this amazing community together on July 2 to help solve one of the most pressing challenges of our time – the plight of 60 million refugees and displaced people. Many people in Cambridge want to do more than just donate to NGOs – they want to use their skills to actively help. This collaborative conference is a great way to do just that.”

Techfugees is a social enterprise coordinating the international tech community’s response to the needs of Refugees. It organises conferences, workshops, hackathons and meetups around the world in an effort to generate tech solutions that help refugees.

Founder Mike Butcher said: “Techfugees was set up to bring the innovation of the tech community together with the needs of refugees and refugee NGOs. With the world facing a refugee crisis, technology needs to be brought to bear on the issues so it is fantastic to see the Cambridge Techfugees chapter inviting people across the sector to discuss innovative solutions for refugees and agencies, as well as looking to bring more expertise on user centred-design and data security drawn from the unique talent available in the Cambridge tech community.”

To find out more on Techfugees visit

For free tickets to the July 2 conference please visit:

• PHOTOGRAPH: courtesy James Fisher (James F.Photography)

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