Everyone involved with World Robot Olympiad knows about the international final in November. A lesser-known WRO contest takes place right after the final: The host country two years from now is chosen. Germany and South Korea are last countries standing in the bid to become host for the big final in 2021.
Hosting an international WRO© final is a big responsibility. You have to come up with a great venue, fitting accommodation, food, hundreds of volunteers and smooth execution. Because you want to make sure, that the robotics competition is an experience of a lifetime for the 400 teams travelling to your country, from every corner of the world. South Korea and Germany have both made it to the finish line, convincing World Robot Olympiad™ Association, that they can deliver on all accounts. These months the administration is determining which of them will be host of the international WRO final in 2021.
The bidding process
Every year the WRO administration invites all national organizers, who have not yet hosted an international final, to make a bid to become a host country. Out of all the applications, two or three countries are chosen to continue with the second part of the bidding process. They are chosen because they live up to all requirements and have convinced the WRO Board of Directors, that they are able to give the young participants the best experience possible. Claus Christensen, General Secretary of WRO, says:
"It will be a hard job for the WRO Board of Directors to decide in favor of one country hosting WRO 2021. Germany and South Korea have both submitted strong bids. The good thing about this situation is that we are certain the international final 2021 will run smoothly, and be a great experience for everyone involved no matter the decision."
South Korea: Unique qualities
A national organizer can have several reasons to want to host an interntational final. In South Korea they want to help children and youth fulfill their dreams of becoming scientists in the future.
"We want to arrange an arena of hope and growth for talented youths of the world who are to be future engineers. We can help them build friendship through innovative robot creation and be happy through a sense of achievement and passion," says Sang Yep Nam, Digital Culture Convergence Association, who has been national organizer in Korea for five years.
According to Sang Yep Nam, the government and the private sector in South Korea have invested more than 9 trillion won in the 4th industrial revolution over the past 5 years. So hosting the international WRO final is in perfect alignment with a Korean initiative to advance robotics.
The center of Korea's robot industry
The national organizer believes that South Korea has unique qualities, that makes it an ideal host country – like charm, hospitality and stability. Apart from investing in the 4th industrial Revolution, the country is also home to global K-Pop stars including BTS and Psy, has a popular food culture and fashion industry. And the ability to pull off a large event such as the international final with 3,000 particpants. Changwon city has been chosen as the best location, as it's the center of Korea's robot industry, and want to further childrens' creative coding skills through working with robots. In particular, Changwon City is operating the world's first robot theme park, Gyeongnam Masan Robot Land, providing youth with opportunities to enjoy robots and companies with opportunities for robot research and business. Sang Yep Nam says:
"We have run the Korean national final since 2012 with more than 2,000 participants. Financial stability is guaranteed by Government support, Changwon city and national sponsorships. Five governmental institutions and more than 20 task forces from the industrial sector will form a steering committee and a task force team to secure operational and financial stability."
Did you know
There has been 15 international WRO finals so far, most recently in India, Costa Rica and Thailand. This year the final is being held in Hungary, next year Canada has the honour.
Germany: 600 people and an anniversary
WRO Germany is run by the non-profit organization TECHNIK BEGEISTERT e.V. In the past seven years they have grown the WRO competition from 32 teams to 766 teams, gaining experience in organizing bigger and bigger events. Hosting the international final makes perfect sense, as their mission is to inspire more students to take an interest in robotics,. Chairman Markus Fleige says:
"We are backed by more than 600 people – regional partners, volunteers, former coaches and participants – who are ready to help. There couldn't be a better year than 2021, as our non-profit organization will celebrate its 10th anniversary around the same time as a WRO Final in Germany in November 2021."
TECHNIK BEGEISTERT would place the final in Dortmund, where the first three German finals were held. WRO Germany and Dortmund won the Google RISE Partnership Award in 2014, which meant a boost for WRO and robotics activities in Dortmund and around. The city is located in North-Rhein-Westphalia, the area with most STEM activities in Germany, making it a perfect location for an international robotics competition.
More than 150 years' experience
WRO Germany has hosted many finals and have experts for every competition category, design, photography, and videos. The core team at TECHNIK BEGEISTERT has more than 150 years of robotic experience between them, has seen all international finals since 2012, and been involved in judging or IT and design processes. So they feel more than able to host WRO 2021. Chairman Markus Fleige says:
"Our first conversations about hosting an international final began in 2016, followed by more and more preparations over the last two years. Now, everything is in place, from venue plan to an almost secured budget, so we are ready to organize an event with well-known German accuracy and quality."
Announcement in November
South Korea and Germany will present their revised and final bids to the WRO administration in November, right after the International Final. A majority vote decides which country bid is recommended to the Board of Directors.