Accelerate Estonia and Garage48 organized an online hackathon over the week-end to develop solutions to help Estonia to come out strong from the coronavirus crisis and create competitive advantages for the post-crisis period.
The initiative, which has become the largest online hackathon in Estonia, was opened by President Kersti Kaljulaid and The Minister of Foreign Trade and Information Technology Kaimar Karu.
Mentors included recognized entrepreneurs, including Martin Villig from Bolt, Kaarel Kotkas from Veriff, who was recently awarded Entrepreneur of the Year, Guaana founder Marko Russiver, Government Chief Information Officer Siim Sikkut, Märt Aro, co-founder of DreamApply.com and chairman of the Nordic EdTech Forum “N8”, Estonian technology entrepreneur and investor Allan Martinson and many others.
Five teams were selected to receive support from Accelerate Estonia in the coming weeks:
Affected people can submit their requests through the website and via a phone line (both are available in Estonian, Russian, and English). Volunteers can help them with deliveries, item crowdsourcing, or even just by offering a friendly chat to combat the harms of social isolation.
Volunteers across Estonia are encouraged to visit the website and install the app to sign up. The service is scalable to other countries and regions.
-- Ventit Breathing apparatus, which readjusts existing resuscitation masks to provide a quick alternative to the machines vital to 1% of people with coronavirus who develop Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and need a breathing machine to survive.
-- Vanemuine - which helps the health care system to increase its capacity to provide assistance by bringing together people with medical training in Estonia and those in need.
-- Share Force One - workforce sharing platform that connects companies for temporary workforce exchange. Some companies are in need of additional workforce and others are facing the reality of not being able to sustain jobs anymore.
-- Corona-tracker by Velmio, which gives the opportunity for people to monitor their health. There's mounting pressure on the healthcare system and a lack of real-time data sources for individuals and governments to monitor the situation.
According to President Kersti Kaljulaid, organizing an online hackathon demonstrates the attitude of Estonians, who at difficult times do not give up but start working on solutions. “It is my sincere pleasure to see that this initiative, organized in just a few hours, has become an international event bringing together more than 1,000 participants from more than 20 countries and 14 time zones. This is a genuine example of an initiative that leads people to look for solutions to the challenges we face, ”said President Kaljulaid.
“The spread of coronavirus is a threat to our health and to our social and economic environment. In addition to controlling the spread of the virus, it is important to join forces and work towards solutions,” the President added.
Viljar Lubi, author of Accelerate Estonia, said the online hackathon is a great example for other countries. “For example, Poland has followed the example of Estonia and they are also planning to organize a similar initiative in their country. I hope that other countries, both in Europe and around the world, will learn from us. The Accelerate Estonia and Garage48 teams have confirmed their willingness to share their experience with other countries who want to organize a similar online hackathon,” says Lubi.
“It is gratifying to see that the European Commission has also taken the initiative here, inviting startups to participate in a competition seeking innovative and technological solutions to prevent the spread and impact of the coronavirus. At this point, I can say that among the ideas that took part in our online hackathon, there are a large number of those who, within 48 hours, developed solutions that have a global impact,” Lubi added.
The hackathon is gaining international attention. “The online hackathon format has been captured by many countries, such as India, Finland, Lithuania, Austria, Denmark, Poland, and the list is expanding. This demonstrates that other countries are also taking the lead in crisis management. The Accelerate Estonia and Garage48 teams have expressed their willingness to support other countries in their initiative - this is our opportunity to contribute to the fight against coronavirus effects around the world,” said Viljar Lubi.