ISSP UL hosts Student Deep Science Hackathon 2021

During the weekend of November 5-7, motivated and enthusiastic students formed teams and came up with new and innovative ideas, as well as presented commercialization plans in STEAM* fields at the Student Deep Science Hackathon 2021.

The event organized by the ISSP UL and the Innovation Center of the University of Latvia (LUMIC) was a three-day virtual environment workshop for the creation and development of new innovative ideas. During the event, participants were provided with mentor support, an online collaboration environment, and information on commercialization steps.

Within 48 hours, students and mentors worked together to develop new high-tech ideas based on the use of smart solutions and materials, as well as sustainability. Seven ideas were submitted to the Student Deep Science Hackathon and six of them were successfully developed by the end of the event. The teams offered ideas such as applications to improve the freight process and access to rehabilitation and physiotherapy services, a solution to recycle plastic waste resulting in acquisition of carbon nanotubes, a security solution against bicycle theft, a new keratin extraction method from sheep’s wool, and application of mycelium composite material in the fashion industry.

Mentors’ team included managing partner of Technology Accelerator Buildit Latvia Matīss Neimanis, managing director of TechHub Riga Madara Ermansone, and mechanics and mechatronics engineer with 15 years experience in various companies and knowledge in prototyping and manufacturing techniques and requirements Kaspars Kalnišs. The team also included several mentors from ISSP UL – director and leading researcher of EXAFS Spectroscopy Laboratory Andris Anspoks, leading researcher of Laboratory of Visual Perception Sergejs Fomins, and senior expert of Materize Innovation unit Alfs Raudis.

Mentor Matīss Neimanis shared his thoughts after the event: "Although it was much more difficult and complicated to organize team work in a virtual environment, it was a real pleasure to work with motivated young people who purposefully moved towards the result".

The participating teams could also use advices of the invited experts, who gave useful lectures and told inspiring stories. Business consultant Ģirts Ozoliņš from ISSP UL spoke about the possibilities of commercialization of a scientific idea, Olga Barreto Gonçalves from Latvian Startup Association Startin.LV shared her experience in the startup ecosystem, whereas Madara Kalniņa-Kalnmale from Lightspace Technologies shared her story of how she went from an idea to a high-tech company.

At the end of the event, the participants presented the work they had done to the jury, which evaluated the teamwork and the achieved results. The jury included representatives from ISSP UL, ISSP UL Foundation, LUMIC, UL Student Business Incubator and EuroLCDs. The Fluffy team, which offered the development of a new keratin extraction method from sheep’s wool, won the first place and the main prize of EUR 2,000, as well as a special prize from MikroTik. This team will also have the opportunity to participate in the Technology Accelerator Buildit Latvia program and apply for an investment. The team "Future Fungi" with the idea to use mycelium composite material in the fashion industry won the second place and 1000 EUR, while the team "Lock Up", which developed a security solution against bicycle theft, won the third place and 200 EUR. Participants of all three award-winning teams also got refreshing prizes from Red Bull.

Member of the board of the ISSP UL’s Foundation Anta Gailiša commented: "It is a pleasure to see creative, smart and enthusiastic students taking advantage of opportunities, mentors, and experts every year during the Hackathons. Latvia has an excellent science, and by building an environment where students and representatives of high-tech companies meet, we establish a basis for the development and growth of innovations”.

The participants and organizers of the Hackathon thanks the sponsors ISSP UL Foundation, GroGlass, MikroTik, Red Bull and event contributors Technology accelerator Buildit Latvia, TechHub Riga community, Latvian Start-up Association Startin.LV, and Lightspace Technologies.

The Hackathon was co-financed by the University of Latvia ERDF project No. / 18 / A / 007 “University of Latvia Innovation Grants for Students”.

* STEAM fields are the areas of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. STEAM is designed to integrate STEM subjects with arts subjects into various relevant education disciplines. These programs aim to teach students innovation, to think critically, and use engineering or technology in imaginative designs or creative approaches to real-world problems while building on students’ mathematics and science base.