A pan-European hackathon entitled #EUvsVirus Hackathon took place from April 24 to 26 to address 37 coronavirus challenges to be quickly developed and deployed across the EU Single Market.

The event, hosted by the European Commission in collaboration other EU member states including Malta, aimed to connect civil society, innovators, partners and buyers across Europe to develop innovative solutions to coronavirus.

A total of 3,832 proposed solutions were submitted by over 20,000 participants from 147 countries from Europe, America, Australia, Asia and Africa, including 13 submitted by Maltese hackers. There were 76 participants from Malta – 34 hackers and 42 jury members or mentors. Malta had the second highest number of registrants per million inhabitants after the Vatican City.

At the award ceremony held on April 30, two of the 37 winning prizes were sponsored by the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) and Esplora, Interactive Science Centre, Malta.

Within the Health and Life research category, prizes were awarded to xT BioE for a development enabling the rapid scaling of vaccine and antibody test production, and to aiLearning  for developing an AI-based solution for simplifying educational activities, focusing on exams corrections, and a 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 now be organising a Matchathon to connect the winning teams and businesses.  

Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, 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”.

Addressing the Maltese participants, Clayton Bartolo, Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services and Digital Economy, reiterated Malta’s commitment to digital innovation that can bring positive change to society.

Bartolo said: “We are convinced that creative and innovative solutions can be found to the societal challenges and disruption caused by the virus.”He thanked the participants for their contribution and for rising to the challenge by providing their own creative, innovative, and, perhaps, also disruptive solutions.

Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, executive chairman of the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) and Esplora, said research and innovation has proved to be important now more than ever.

“Despite its challenges, COVID-19 has brought the world together,” he said. “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 MCST, together with Malta Enterprise, has launched a €5.3 million COVID-19 R&D Fund to provide innovative or improved approaches with regard to current and other relevant anti-viral research. For more information, e-mail: ri.mcst@gov.mt or register on plumtri.org.



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