Yesterday, Prague’s coworking space WeWork hosted the finale of the Hack the Crisis Czech Republic hackaton. With Andrej Babiš, Czech Prime Minister, Karel Havlíček, Minister of Industry and Trade, and Vladimír Dzurilla, Chief Digital Officer for IT and Digitization, in attendance, the evening saw the jury select the eight winning projects which split the CZK 10 million in prize money provided to the competition by Hyundai. The first prize was awarded to DIANA Biotechnologies. A total of 206 projects were entered into the two-month-long hackaton. Thanks to a unique cooperation between the public, private and academic sectors, 108 of them obtained some form of support. Together with the Czech Rise Up program, more than 400 unique projects – i.e. more than seven projects per day – were launched to fight the COVID-19 crisis during the hackaton alone.
“I am very glad to have been able to meet and talk to the representatives of some of the best projects aimed at fighting the current crisis. I am also glad that – together with our partners from the private sector – we were able to support over one hundred companies and startups. More than four hundred unique projects were entered into the hackaton and the Czech Rise up program. This is simply an incredible number. Thank you all.” said Andrej Babiš.
“When we first articulated the ‘Czech Republic – The Country for the Future’ vision, we said that the Czech Republic is full of capable and innovative people who we want to represent us abroad. So that we can show the world our technological and innovation prowess,” said the Karel Havlíček, Minister of Industry and Trade. “In the last two months,” he continued, “the more than 200 hackaton submissions have proven that the Czech Republic truly is a country for the future. We are therefore determined to continue to organize similar events and support them with know-how and financial resources.” The Czech Rise Up program has received a total of 236 requests for financial support, successful projects will be provided a total of CZK 200 million. Furthermore, the government has already approved the continuation of the program – under the name of Czech Rise Up 2.0 – with a budget of CZK 300 million. Grants will be available to, among others, the startups and companies within the Crisis Response Hub.
The hackaton was won by DIANA Biotechnologies – a project that aims to contribute to the overall capacity of ultrasensitive COVID-19 testing in the Czech Republic, which is critical for successfully lifting the quarantine measures, as well as fighting a possible new wave of infections in the future. The company was awarded a cash prize of CZK 3 million. It also managed to win the audience ‘sympathy’ award decided by a public poll on social media. The second-place winner was Corovent, while the third place went to the special nanofilters developed by the technological spin-off LAM-X, which are designed for use as a facemask component. The five special awards were given to Grey Cortex, Oxygenerator, Kaleido, Hunter Games and FreMEn contra COVID. Enclosed to this press release are the profiles of all the projects, as well as an informative booklet.
The Hack the Crisis hackaton represents the first step of a long-term cooperation between CzechInvest, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the private sector. Together, these stakeholders will focus on projects, which can help both the state and commercial actors to better manage crisis situations. “The mission of the newly formed Crisis Response Hub is to harness the synergies resulting from the cooperation of state institutions with the commercial sector, as well as to support the creation of startups in any crisis situation – be it a pandemic, a terrorist attack or any other emergency” explained Patrich Reichl, the CEO of CzechInvest. He added: “We also want to include other ministries and state institutions in the platform in order to tackle specific problems, such as distance learning which revealed itself a critical issue in the recent crisis.”
List of winning projects:
- 1st place in the main contest, cash prize of CZK 3 million: DIANA Biotechnologies
- 2nd place in the main contest, cash prize of CZK 2 million: Corovent
- 3rd place in the main contest, cash prize of CZK 1 million: Active nanofilters against COVID-19
- 5 special awards, cash prizes of CZK 700 000 (per project): Grey Cortex, Oxygenerator, Kaleido, Hunter Games, FreMEn contra COVID
- Audience ‘sympathy’ award (determined by public social media polls): DIANA Biotechnologies
About Hack the Crisis
Hack the Crisis is a virtual hackathon that was launched with the aim of coordinating the needs of the state with energy and volunteering in the IT community and business environment, thus supporting the implementation of relevant projects that can help in the current situation or mitigate its impact. The main organisers of the event are CzechInvest and the Ministry of Industry and Trade. During last two months, 206 projects have been entered the hackathon. More than fifty partners from the private and public sectors have become involved in the hackathon, providing their services and products to selected projects. Free mentoring is being provided by more than 130 experts in various fields.
CzechInvest plays a key role in the area of comprehensive support for business and investments. The agency’s unique combination of regional, central and international operations ensures the integrity of its services and its ability to connect global trends with the regional conditions in the Czech Republic. One of CzechInvest’s primary objectives is the transformation of the Czech Republic into an innovation leader of Europe. CzechInvest is a state contributory organisation subordinate to the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic. The agency was established in 1992.
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