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Hope in a time of crisis – Irish success at the EU vs Virus Hackathon

Two Ireland-based participants were amongst the winning teams at the recent EU vs Virus pan-European Hackathon. The event, which took place from 24-26 April 2020, sought to connect civil society, innovators, partners and investors across Europe to hack out solutions to the challenges created by Covid-19. Over 20,900 participants of 114 different nationalities took part in the Hackathon, of whom over 400 were Ireland-based. Irish participation in the event was coordinated by Sapien Innovation, a start-up founded by Colin Keogh and David Pollard, who acted as the national curators for the Hackathon.

Speaking in relation to the success of the initiative, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, said:

In a time of crisis, people from across Europe and beyond have come together to hack out innovative solutions to the issues created by this unprecedented pandemic. I am thrilled that many Ireland-based innovators and mentors took part in what can only be described as a historic moment of European solidarity and hope. I offer my sincere congratulations to all the winners and runners-up at the EU vs Virus pan-European Hackathon.”

Participants were set a number of different challenges under six domains: Health and Life, Business Continuity, Remote Working and Education, Social & Political Cohesion, Digital Finance, along with an open category for other challenges. Within these domains were 37 Coronavirus-related challenges.

The Department is delighted to announce that Ireland-based participants were part of the winning teams for the challenges ‘Protecting Employees’ and ‘Stay Close to Your Customers’ for their projects ‘MyBubble’ and ‘My Slots’ respectively. There were a total of 117 winning solutions selected from a massive 2,160 entrants.

Speaking about their success at the Hackathon, the ‘My Slots’ team said:

We are grateful to be selected as one of the winners of the EU vs Virus Hackathon and we are still overwhelmed with joy from the results.

This Hackathon proved Europe is stronger together. And we believe that only together we can tackle the current crisis. The success of the Hackathon is not only a victory for the teams involved, but also for millions of citizens currently battling with this crisis.

Businesses all around the globe have been affected by this pandemic. Winning the challenge ‘Stay Close to Your Customers’ will allow us to continue our journey to developing a solution that will allow them to reopen safely again. We aim at giving customers and everyone back the confidence they once had navigating through their daily activities, in spite of the current situation.

Kate O’Brien, lead developer on the ‘MyBubble’ team noted:

Hackathons are a melting pot of collaboration, very different people coming together and making something.  Our team and idea is very much that, all from different backgrounds and countries. Winning has given us a lot of reassurance that making an app to keep you alert, informed, and safe in the 'new normal', is an idea that is worth pursuing.  We are trying to make the new circumstances we are going through bearable instead of being trapped in fear.

Some of the 1200 partner organisations to the Hackathon have pledged over €100,000 to date as cash prizes for the winners. Furthermore, an online Matchathon event will take place from 22-25 May 2020 to match winners with the resources they need to develop and scale their ideas and bring their solutions to life. The European Innovation Council (EIC) will invite winning solutions to join an EIC COVID Platform, which will be launched at the end of May, to facilitate connections with end users, such as hospitals, and provide access to investors, foundations and other funding opportunities from across the EU.

The EIC COVID Platform offers an exciting opportunity and platform for anyone wishing to make a real difference during this crisis,

said John Halligan, Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development. 

The EU vs Virus Hackathon was undoubtedly an inspiring and hugely positive initiative, and I would encourage anyone working in the Irish Research and Innovation sphere to consider the opportunities the EIC can provide. Research and Innovation are absolutely key to protecting our citizens and rebuilding our economies both now and into the future.

More information about the results from the Hackathon

Information on the European Innovation Council

ENDS

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) plays a key role in implementing the Government’s policies of stimulating the productive capacity of the economy and creating an environment which supports job creation and maintenance. The Department has lead responsibility for Irish policy on global trade and inward investment and a remit to promote fair competition in the marketplace, protect consumers and safeguard workers.

For further information please contact Press Office, D/Business, Enterprise and Innovation, press.office@dbei.gov.ie or (01) 631 2200

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