Saturday 31 October 2020

EU hackathon to develop innovative solutions to coronavirus

MCST sponsors two of the winning prizes

The European Commission – in close collaboration with Malta and other EU member states – hosted a pan-European hackathon to connect civil society, innovators, partners and buyers across Europe to develop innovative solutions to coronavirus.

The #EUvsVirus Hackathon took place on the 24th , 25th  and 26th April to address 37 coronavirus challenges to be quickly developed and deployed across the EU Single Market. The Award ceremony was held on the 30th April. 

Over 20,000 participants from 147 countries from Europe, America, Australia, Asia and Africa put their heads together at this hackathon and submitted 3832 proposed solutions. 13 of the solutions were submitted by Maltese hackers. There were 76 participants from Malta – 34 hackers, and 42 jury members or mentors. It is worth mentioning that Malta had the second highest number of registrants per million inhabitants after the Vatican City, which placed first.

The European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, said: “this pan-European hackathon is an example of how Europe can come together in times of crisis.  It is inspiring to witness this show of solidarity by our community of innovators. Our most talented minds will do their best to find solutions to coronavirus and support our citizens. This is European innovation in action”.

The Maltese participants were also addressed by the Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services and Digital Economy, the Hon. Clayton Bartolo. Hon. Bartolo reiterated Malta’s commitment to digital innovation that can bring positive change to society. Hon. Bartolo stated: “we are convinced that creative and innovative solutions can be found to the societal challenges and disruption caused by the virus”. Hon. Bartolo thanked the participants for their contribution and for rising to the challenge by providing their own creative, innovative, and, perhaps, also disruptive solutions.

Two of the 37 winning prizes were sponsored by the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) and Esplora, Interactive Science Centre, Malta. The Executive Chairman for the Malta Council for Science and Technology and Esplora, Dr Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, stated that Research and Innovation has proved to be important now more than ever. Despite its challenges, COVID-19 has brought the world together. The Council believed in supporting this hackathon as such initiatives give the opportunity to Maltese citizens from all walks of life to get together with the rest of the world and test their R & I ideas, even if they have never been entrepreneurial before.  The prizes were awarded to xT BioE for the development of enabling the rapid scaling of vaccine and antibody test production within the Health and Life research category and aiLearning  for the development of an AI-based solution for simplifying educational activities, focusing on exams corrections and learning companion within the e-learning methods and tools category.  

A participant from Malta formed part of one of the six overall winning teams with the Aidbind project  for their solution to the information gap between demand, supply and funding of medical products, procured via donations and charity.  The European Commission will be now organising a Matchathon to connect the winning teams and businesses.   

Dr Pullicino Orlando also noted that Malta is doing its part in these tough and challenging times and, apart from sponsoring these hackathon prizes, MCST, together with Malta Enterprise, has launched a EUR 5.3 million COVID-19 R&D Fund to provide innovative or improved approaches with regards to current and other relevant anti-viral research.MCST falls under the Parliamentary Secretariat for Financial Services and Digital Economy whilst Malta Enterprise falls under the Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Business.

For more information on the COVID-19 R&D Fund contact the Malta Council for Science and Technology via email:  [email protected] or register on plumtri.org  

Hon. Bartolo’s welcome address may be found on  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMCe6XjaWz8

 Footage of the event may be found on https://www.facebook.com/EUvsVirus/ 

More information on the #EUvsVirus Hackathon may be found on https://euvsvirus.org/ 

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