A European hackathon to find innovative solutions to combat COVID-19

A European hackathon to find innovative solutions to combat COVID-19

To complement hackathons taking place at global and member state level, the European Commission in close collaboration with EU member states hosted, from 24 to 26 April, a pan-European hackathon to connect civil society, innovators, partners and buyers across Europe to develop innovative solutions to the novel coronavirus. The #EUvsVirus Hackathon addressed approximately 20 imminent COVID-19 challenges to be quickly developed and deployed across Europe.

Under this initiative EU aims at addressing critical issues such as fast producing and scaling of protective materials and equipment for medical staff and patients, remaining safe for front line medical personnel – robots assisted tele-presence of medical staff in intensive care units, fast production and scaling of FFP2-masks with a good quality, fast check of the quality of masks, ways to clean and reuse mouth masks and other disposables, low cost individual protection equipment that is easy to put and remove ideally just one piece. The pan-European hackathon also addressed Member States’ critical challenges such as: build new medical ventilator with existing components from the aeronautics, automobile and diving industries to enable large-scale quick production and easily fixing ventilators and respirators for medical use.

The initiative saw over 16 milia participants among start-ups and technology companies. Among these also Andrius Milinavičius, founder of a Lithuanian start-up that is developing an app to connect volunteers with elderly people in difficulty according to ‘EuroNews’. Many organizations have a database with the needs that the start-up connect with a database of volunteers to view all the needs in a map. The volunteer – explains the organization -open the app and he will see a need for a nearby elderly citizen, as groceries, delivery or more important needs like medicines.

High tech solutions like this often require multiple minds to be successful. That’s why the European Union organized the hackathon against the virus, working with technology companies and civil society organization to find solutions to daily pandemic challenges. The initiative aims to collect the best ideas, and above all to propose the means to produce them. “We are examining also how to produce fans, to have them quickly, in large quantities so that they can be accessible to everyone. This is the type of ideas we are looking for”. The EU Commissioner for Research, Mariya Gabriel, explained talking with journalists.

Due to COVID-19 response restrictions, engineers, developers, designers and employees will not be able to meet live, but this will not prevent them from working 24 hours a day from their homes and during the hackathon, the participants worked really hard. They are usually highly motivated, especially when it comes to contributing to a cause like this, commented Sasa Popovic CEO of Vega IT, a Serbian startup. The European Commission, in close collaboration with all member States and the participating H2020 associated countries, will provide follow up to the best projects coming from the #EUvsVirus hackathon through the new European Innovation Council (EIC) Covid platform. Foundations, investors, health providers like hospitals are also part of the project.

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