Author:
Ali Haririan

48 hours of DIGI-GREEN hackathon brought solutions for supporting green revolution

From May 10-12, the DIGI+GREEN hackathon took place at the Jõhvi Concert Hall, where 36 young people, organised into 7 teams, sought solutions for leveraging digital data to advance the green transition. With the help of mentors, their brainstorming sessions led to the development of functional prototypes from initial ideas within just a few days, providing value to both the business and public sectors.

The three-day long hackathon started with an inspiration day and culminated with team presentations and prototype pitches to an international jury. The head organiser of the hackathon and the project manager of the University of Tartu, Elis Vollmer, noted that the format of the event with its 90-second limit for the performance made all the participants think about how to highlight the value of new solutions in a tight competition.

"In striving for societal change, we must find new ways to use digital skills, knowledge, and data to support our efforts. Equally important to having a good idea is the ability to quickly implement it in practice and communicate its value to others. Only then can we effectively leverage digital data and tools for a truly fair green transition and energy security," Vollmer noted.

A close battle for shaping the future

Vincent Homburg, professor of e-governance at the University of Tartu and one of the mentors and jury members of the hackathon, noted that it was fascinating to watch strangers get together for 48 hours, work intensely for joint vision, and end up with practical working prototypes that can help improve lives of our citizens.

As a result of jury deliberation, the winning solution for the hackathon was WATTSmart – an app that analyses the user's energy consumption and recommends suitable electricity-saving methods. The solution uses machine learning techniques, which allows the app to tailor its recommendations according to the consumer's behaviour as well as income level. The winning team was awarded €3,000 worth of consultancy and support services to turn their idea into reality. 

In a very close competition, solution named Guideless came second and was also awarded a special Ida-Viru prize by the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Estonia. The app focuses on eco-friendly tourism, which is especially suited for self-guided hikers/tourists and helps to plan a suitable day trip in terms of time and money including visits, transport and catering. It allows visitors to make informed choices and also provides a user-friendly platform for tourism-related service providers.

The second special prize from Eesti Energia for the best energy-related solution went to an educational energy game GriVi, which aims to introduce the player to the functioning of the energy system and the impact of different factors on the functioning and price of energy. 

Public Good, on the other hand, is a solution that strikes the audience with its interesting and exemplary approach, improving the use of data. It aims to create a data engagement platform to enable the public sector to make better use of privately owned data to create better e-services. According to Elis Vollmer, the main organiser of the hackathon, the exchange of data between the public and the private sector is currently poorly organised and unregulated – therefore, such a solution would help to better harness data for the benefit of the public sector, bringing direct benefits to local citizens. 

The idea was also flagged because it would be a solution for the direct benefit of society, without having the same quick business potential as other apps and tools. The special prize for this solution was a Cleantech Estonia consultation and tickets to the sTARTUp Day, so that the team behind the solution could get more inspiration and advice to develop their solution into a real service. 

Two solutions at the event were related to forestry, a topic heavily under attention in Estonia. Both, Silva Future and 4est.ai, enable forest owners make better decisions on how to manage their forests in an environmentally friendly way. 

The Audience Favourite award was won by G-block, a solution that helps to prove that crypto miners use 100% green electricity. 

The hackathon was organised by the University of Tartu in collaboration with Garage 48. The hackathon was supported by the Estonian University of Life Sciences, Startup Estonia, Cleantech Estonia, Eesti Energia, Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Estonia, sTARTUp Day, Tehnopol, Environmental Investment Centre and Eesti Kontsert. 

The hackathon was co-funded by the ECePS ERA Chair that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 857622. The event is supported by the CEESEU-DIGIT project, funded by the European Union’s Programme for the Environment and Climate Action (LIFE 2014-2020) under grant agreement n° LIFE 101077297. 

Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Research Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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