UPDATED: Garage48 holds a hackathon to tackle the coronavirus crisis

The Estonian startup organisation, Garage48, together with Accelerate Estonia, has held an online hackathon to tackle the coronavirus crisis; the organisations are willing to share their experience with other countries looking to organise similar online hackathons.

From 13-15 March, over a thousand people from 14 timezones and 20 countries used the Garage48 method of hacking for 48 hours straight. 30 teams presented their working products on Sunday with a pre-recorded pitch over a webinar. 

The winners of the coronavirus-themed hackathon were:

1. Zelos – connecting people at risk with volunteers via call centre
2. Ventit – breathing apparatus for people who develop the acute respiratory distress syndrome
3. Vanemuine – a medical volunteer management database 
4. Share Force One – a workforce sharing platform that connects B2B sides for temporary workforce exchange 
5. Velmio – a corona-tracker to self-monitor one’s risk or recovery from home in real time

Sharing the experience

“As a result of the hackathon, local community initiatives started popping up all around the world under the hashtag of #hackthecrisis,” Garage48 said in a blog post. “India, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Poland, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Canada, the United Kingdom and others have followed our lead and joined forces to prevent the further spread and impact of the coronavirus.”

Garage48 and Accelerate Estonia have confirmed their willingness to share their experience with other countries looking to organise similar online hackathons and have created the “Hack the Crisis Global Community” landing page to centralise all the local events and offer support for all the new organisers.

Garage48 and Accelerate Estonia have confirmed their willingness to share their experience with other countries looking to organise similar online hackathons and have created the “Hack the Crisis Global Community” landing page to centralise all the local events and offer support for all the new organisers.

The Estonian president makes a global call to action

The Estonian president, Kersti Kaljulaid, has also thrown her support behind the idea of hackathons solving the crisis and is calling all the countries to join in. “I appeal to the international community to call you up to join our initiative and start working on finding and creating solutions, for the reason to minimise the coronavirus’s socio-economic impact on our lives,” Kaljulaid said in a statement.

“Now, when the crisis shows our weak points out, it’s important that the public and private sector join their forces to start developing innovative ways to leave from the forced situation upright. Bringing together the brightest minds that are willing to be part of finding and creating the solutions, is the best start to building our future for the post-crisis’ period,” Kaljulaid added.

Garage48 is a series of international start-up events for turning ideas into working prototypes in 48 hours. Accelerate Estonia is a public project, initiated by the government and aimed to be a “highway” to fully exploit the capacity of the Estonian technology and startup ecosystem, similarly to the country’s e-residency programme.

Cover: The visual image of the novel coronavirus cell, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US.

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