On Wednesday, October 20, the 4th BioInnovation Day student hackathon took place in Tartu. At the event students put their mind into solving various challenges in the health, food and biotechnology sector and made a significant contribution to making the world a healthier, happier and more sustainable place.
At the beginning of the day, participants were actively involved to think and speak along when Triin Kask (Metatellus, Estonian Founders’ Society) encouraged the audience to thoroughly analyze the problem underlying their business idea in the Design Thinking Workshop in order to find the real potential of their idea.
Once the participants’ thought process was in full swing, it was time to put an end to the workshop so that the teams could discuss their plan of action and develop their ideas further. Most of the teams had already been formed in advance, and a new, eleventh team was formed on the spot thus the members of this team had the opportunity to build a new and fresh business idea from scratch during the day.
The teams were assisted by mentors, experienced experts from various fields, who nudged the participants to think about uncomfortable questions, if necessary, calmed too far-fetched ideas or instead gave new impetus to the ideas with the right questions. After several hours of intense work, the participants gathered again to listen to the story of Norman Vester, CEO of Communicare, about the student company’s journey – both about the victories and more difficult moments. At the end of the presentation, however, there was a motivating recommendation not to be afraid of setbacks, because it is also necessary to learn from mistakes in order to develop.
The highlight of the day was a pitching competition where 11 teams presented their ideas to address health-, food- and biosustainabilty challenges such as early diagnosis and prevention applications, the development of sustainable food and agriculture, or the creation of new bio-based materials. Although several teams took part in the hackathon for the first time, all the presentations were truly engaging, carrying the energy of change.
To motivate the teams to take their business ideas on the next level, several prizes were also given out at the competition.
The EIT Health 500€ award was won by the team TYK-Map, which had the idea to create a technical solution that would help both visitors and hospital staff to navigate better in modern but extremely complex hospital buildings.
The EIT Food 500€ award was won by the FunGiT team, whose plan was to develop fungi-based biocontrol agents in agriculture as an alternative to chemical pesticides.
The team that won a chance to represent Estonia at EIT Health Innovation Days European finals was won by the team Microns. Microns plans to develop a microneedle patch for disease detection using an antibody-antigen reaction.
At the end of the event, participants were given a task to find potential customers for their product and gather their feedback. In a week, on October 27, the first follow-up event of BioInnovation Days will take place in cooperation with the Life Sciences Students Association, where teams can further develop ideas with the help of consumer feedback and mentors and listen to presentations from entrepreneurs and investors. On November 3, the second and last follow-up event of the series will take place, where one could attend a pitching workshop and the evening will end with the next pitching competition.
Photos by Andres Vaher