Following the three Hackathons performed simultaneously last weekend in Bucharest, Iași and Sibiu, 44 young technical start-up teams are joining the 25 teams already qualified following the Hackathons which took place on the 12th -13th of March in Cluj-Napoca and Timișoara. They will participate together in the mentoring programme Innovation Labs, which will be carried out within the next 5 months.
Hackathons represent the selection phase of the Innovation Labs accelerator, for the five-month mentoring programme, having the Romanian – American Foundation as strategic partner, the POLYTECHNIC University of Bucharest as university strategic partner, and in collaboration with the Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation Funding.
The local implementation of Innovation Labs is also supported by the local partners of the programme:
- Adobe, Keysight Technologies, NXP, Fitbit, BearingPoint, Eximprod Grup, Deloitte România, Ortec, PSS Prosoft Solutions, PentestTools, Simple Capital Labs, Bware Labs, Knosis.ai, BRD Mindcraft in Bucharest,
- Electrolux România, as main local partner in Cluj-Napoca, and Linnify and Wolfpack Digital, as technological partners,
- Sevio Solutions in Iași,
- Amazon, Growceanu and Viva Facilities in Timișoara.
In the five centres, the programme is academically supported by 17 top universities in Romania:
- in Bucharest: the POLYTECHNIC University of Bucharest, the Bucharest University, the “Carol Davila” Medicine and Pharmacy University, the University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Bucharest, the Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, the “Ovidius” University of Constanța and the Transilvania University of Brașov,
- in Cluj-Napoca: the Babeș–Bolyai University, the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, the ”Iuliu Hațieganu” Medicine and Pharmacy University of Cluj-Napoca, the University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Cluj-Napoca,
- in Iași: the „Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iași, the „Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University of Iași,
- in Sibiu: the „Lucian Blaga” University of Sibiu,
- in Timișoara: the Polytechnic University of Timişoara, the West University of Timişoara, the Oradea University.
The three Hackathons performed in Bucharest, Iași and Sibiu have gathered a number of 156 teams, composed of young people with courageous projects, who propose to have a positive impact over several business sectors through their technological solutions.
The start-ups that were present have aligned with one of the ten business verticals of the programme: Agriculture, Blockchain, Cybersecurity, DevTools, Digital Commerce, Digital Health, Lifestyle, Retail, Smart City & Industry 4.0 and Sustainability. The teams were divided into three categories, depending on their members’ expertise: teams exclusively composed of students, spin-off teams from research projects within the academic environment and teams composed of students and experienced entrepreneurs.
Based on the options of the jury and of the participants, the teams with the highest potential have entered into the development and rapid mentoring phase of the Hackathon. Throughout Saturday and the following night, a total number of 64 young teams that have been selected have worked in order to improve the most-convincing prototype of their initial idea, under supervision from mentors and jury members within the Hackathon.
On Sunday, the 20th of March, the teams have presented to the jury and the public an improved version of the product and of their business strategy, through a presentation that included a technical demonstration and a 2-minute elevator pitch. The jury has selected the most performant and promising 44 teams, which have therefore entered the 5-month development and mentoring programme: 29 teams in Bucharest, 7 teams in Iași and 8 teams in Sibiu. Today the qualified teams are starting an intense experience of weekly interactions with the mentors, users and potential investors, gradually entering the world of digital innovation and technical entrepreneurship.
Together with the teams participating in Hackathon, on Saturday there were present many members of the community Innovation Labs, prominent actors of the innovative entrepreneurship ecosystem in Romania. Some of them have also accepted the invitation from Andrei Pitiș, Vladimir Oane and Răzvan Rughiniș to participate to an interview marathon series – Innovation Labs Backstage Talks, an innovation conference. Among those who have answered to the challenge and have shared their own vision or have advised the participant teams were representatives of public institutions and the rectors of some of the largest universities in Bucharest (Mihnea Costoiu, Marian Preda, Răzvan Teodorescu, Liviu Lucaci), as well as managers, developers and engineers from the national and local corporate supporters of the programme.
Among the innovations proposed by the young teams within the Innovation Labs Hackathons from the five centres of the programme
In this Innovation Labs edition, BRD – Groupe Société Générale, supporting primarily sustainability projects, has noted the business and educational potential of the start-up PET-recycling device for 3D printers, which proposes the introduction in schools of a system for plastic bottles recycling and their transformation into 3D filament.
Atos has noted in the Innovation Labs Hackathons several projects with potential: MutableSecurity, addressing not only cyber security problems, but also the automatization of repetitive tasks; interactive6 – the educational platform for code programming; ANPI app – monitoring solution for elderly people; BookMe – personalised therapeutic stories for children.
VTEX representatives, event partners and supporters of the Digital Commerce vertical, acting as members of the jury and mentors, have noted several young start-ups. Swapper, C2C marketplace for coupons, and Optima, the application for dynamic pricing and recommendations based on artificial intelligence, were two of the projects which have drawn their attention. The same happened to teams from other verticals, such as SustenCity, the team from Timișoara concerned by solar energy.
Other 5 teams have joined the programme this weekend within the category University Spin-off – section of the programme supported by Orange which offers the necessary support to the teams based on research results in order to bring their technical projects on the market. The Spin-off BETTER is one of the projects which draw Orange’s attention, by proposing a procedure based on artificial intelligence algorithms used for discovering cancerous formations of the liver.
The team and the product identified by Elrond in the Innovation Labs Hackathon is the start-up SmartMoney from Sibiu, an interactive platform of financial education.
The finalists of the programme will present their products on July 26th, within the Demo Day event, in front of the partners, media representatives and potential investors and the most convincing teams will be recognised through the Innovation Labs prizes. The teams will continue to be supported by the accelerator and the supporters of the programme, including after the end of the mentoring period, becoming part of the Innovation Labs alumni community.