11 teams worked with innovative sustainable solutions in the first Baltic Sea hackathon

The first online hackathon «HACK DigitalSea’21» in the Baltics, was launched on 3-4 of July. Participants sought innovative solutions to the acute challenges for sustainable aquaculture and growing pollution in the Baltic Sea. During the hackathon, teams came up with solutions cleaning the seabed from microplastics and oil pollution and drones to map pollution in the water.

In total, 11 teams took part in the hackathon, two of which represented Estonia. The teams’ solutions were judged by an international jury, which selected the winners in three categories: Most Advanced Solution, Strongest Idea and From Zero to Hero that had shown progress from idea to prototype during the hackathon. The winners of each category were awarded a cash prize worth 4000 euros.

The winner of the Most Advanced Solution category winner team leader Alona Stepanova: «Participation in this event was one of the best experiences we have ever had. The overall level of professionalism of the mentors was extremely high and all the ideas, thoughts and advice they shared were very valuable. We can thank them in advance for any future success we will have.»

  • The Latvian team DronePlan won the Strongest Idea category, proposing the use of automated drones to collect pollution data and provide automated systems analysis for pollution mapping.
  • The Latvian team PurOceans won the Most Advanced Solution category, proposing a solution that cleans 98% of oil and microplastic pollution from rivers and the sea.
  • In From Zero to Hero category, the prize for the most significant progress from idea to first prototype sketch went to NPeter, a team of students from Lithuania formed during the event.

2 of the teams answered the call to participate in the hackathon from Estonia, 6 from Latvia and 3 from Lithuania. Within two days, the teams validated their solutions, improved business models, and consulted with 23 industry representatives, experts and business mentors from the three Baltic States. A total of 72 mentoring sessions were conducted over two days.

All the teams that started working in the hackathon made a final pitch. The teams were quite strong and there were a lot of great ideas.

  • Team EMI from Estonia proposed a solid and impactful idea – reduction of methane that is 25x more potent climate gas than CO2 of the cattle for meat and milk production. They came up with an idea to reduce methane production of cows by more than 98% by feeding only 1-2% feed additive – a specific species of macroalgae.
  • Team Vetik proposed total valorisation of red algae Furcellaria Lumbricalis all fractures to use all the potential ent and have production with zero waste.
  • The Riga Technical University Institute of Radio Electronics EDAMARINE offered a unique modular system for repelling seals from fishing gear consisting of a mobile buoy with IoT support, a specially designed underwater speaker, a battery module with an innovative wireless power transmission system.
  • BestGreenTeam (LV) worked on testing the sorption capacity of foam ceramic granule samples to evaluate the performance of the innovative product in collecting contaminants (spills) from natural waters. A team of researchers from the Latvian Institute of Hydroecology (LHEI) alge.lv studied the possibility of reducing excessive concentrations of nutrients – nitrogen and phosphorus – in the Baltic Sea. Seaweeds absorb nutrients and the removal of their biomass from the sea improves water quality and the condition of ecosystems.
  • The startup Happy Fish (LT) introduced the hackathon participants to its innovative «Fat Manager» – a specially formulated bio-cleaner that is regularly dosed in sewer pipes with a team-developed dispenser to solve a well-known problem in food production and processing – fat accumulation in sewer pipes.
  • Drone AI (LT) – Robotics cleaning sea and rivers using drones, surveillance cameras, and cleaning robots driven by AI, analysing telemetrics and sending robots to areas that need cleaning. They already possess a prototype and AI.
  • PasterPack – reduction on transport sector CO2 impact through the package made from algae. Packages are transparent, compostable and suitable for food with the valid until six months.

The Digital Sea Hackathon took place for the first time in cooperation with three EIT Food centers in the Baltic region – AgriFood Lithuania DIH, Riga Technical University (RTU) and Tartu Biotechnology Park. The organisers invited researchers, entrepreneurs, experts in the field, technology developers and students from various fields. More about hackathons and challenges: www.hackdigitalsea.lt

Hackathon was challenged and supported by the Estonian Ministry of the Environment. From Latvia – the Latvian Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, the Freeport of Riga Authority, the Latvian Maritime Academy, the Food Safety, Animal Health and Environmental Research Institute BIOR, and the Latvian IT Cluster. The event was also supported by the Lithuanian Ministry of the Environment.

EIT Food is a knowledge and innovation community of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). By forging close links between consumers, businesses, start-ups, researchers and students from across Europe, EIT Food supports innovation and sustainable economic initiatives that increase access to quality food, improve the environment and health, create new jobs and boost Europe’s competitiveness. The hackathon was first where three EIT Food Hubs in Baltic states worked together.