CzechInvest Launches Virtual Hackathon to Support Fight Against Coronavirus
CzechInvest has launched ‘Hack the Crisis’, a hackathon bringing together the private and public sectors to accelerate projects that can help the Czech Republic in the fight against the coronavirus. The projects will have access to support in many different forms, such as funding, knowledge, connections and resources. Title photo: Freepik.
Brno, Apr 8 (BD) – CzechInvest has launched the ‘Hack the Crisis’ hackathon in cooperation with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and a number of other partners, bringing together the state, regions, universities, companies and associations with the aim of accelerating selected projects that reflect the country’s priorities in the fight against coronavirus. The hackathon is currently ongoing and has no set end date.
‘Hack the Crisis’ is being carried out as part of the recently launched Czech Network platform, which allows companies to offer and request available capacity, materials and services to the state and each other. The objective of the hackathon is to support and unify activities and projects aimed at fighting the pandemic or mitigating its impacts, and finding specific solutions to current problems.
Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlicek welcomed the initiative: “We are not creating anything entirely new. We value the private initiatives that are already operating and we do not want to interfere with them. However, we want to provide support where it is needed and where there is interest. We have seen that this works abroad, for example in Estonia, Poland and Germany, where we found inspiration, and we would also like to offer support from the state in the Czech Republic. In addition to that, we are in contact with our counterparts from Poland, and we have agreed to share examples of good practice and, where appropriate, to interlink our mentor networks.”
The initiative, with the involvement of all relevant government bodies, hopes to support selected projects that encounter obstacles such as shortage of funding, a lack of contacts, know-how or capacity, or lengthy processing times. In cooperation with private companies, the government, experts in specific areas, and visionaries, the team behind the hackathon and Czech Network will assist in removing these obstacles and attempt to implement promising projects as soon as possible.
The recently launched Czech Rise Up – Smart Measures Against COVID-19 programme and cooperation with the private sector partners such as Amazon, Avast, and Microsoft, are contributing to achieving this aim. One of the key prerequisites for the success of the hackathon, says CzechInvest, is the involvement of regions and innovation infrastructure. Mentors with technical backgrounds related to the project’s priorities are also welcome, as are any other parties interested in partnership across a broad range of sectors. At the same time, the initiative also intends to support the existing covid19cz platform, bringing together Czech technology firms and IT enthusiasts, as well as other platforms.
“We want to match our country’s needs with the tremendous energy and volunteering in the IT and other sectors. We would like to give this collaboration a longer-term character and prepare other forms of support. In the future, this could aid the response to similar threats or any other threat to the state, citizens or information. One of the models under consideration is an incubation programme for start-ups and spin-offs that would work with some of the ideas that come out of this hackathon,” said Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Petr Ocko.
Companies can get involved in the hackathon by submitting their project proposals via a simple web form at hackthecrisis.cz. The proposals will be evaluated by a so-called “ideaboard”, a committee composed of experts, academics, and representatives of state administration with a direct connection to the central crisis management staff, which maps the country’s needs and priorities. Brief feedback on each project will be given within 48 hours of submission of the registration form. If the project gets the green light, the participants will be contacted by the Czech Network team, who will help them with their needs, such as computing capacity, consulting, financial support, or connections in other companies or the public sector. The Czech Network team will also assist with administration, allowing the participants to fully focus on their projects.