In a unique hackathon format, 250 students from 15 universities spent two weeks creating prototypes for combating existing, real-life problems that have arisen as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Challenges were submitted by companies, organizations, and governmental institutions to be tackled by the hackathon teams.
Hackathon participants divided themselves into teams to tackle one of the submitted challenges. In two weeks, they were expected to create and present a prototype of a solution to the problem. A 20,000 EUR pot was divided among the four winning teams to further develop and build their solutions.
Our students are world-class innovators. I don't know of many cases where in two week's time 250 students, scientists, and experts have worked together to create unique things. With this program, we change the paradigm of what a student is. We prepare not only professionals but innovators and entrepreneurs as well, who will shape our economy in the future. - Tālis Juhna, Vice-Rector for Research, Riga Technical University
One of the winning teams has solved a problem submitted by LMT, which also provided mentorship – validating and prototyping a disposable chamber for the transportation of Covid-19 patients. The team won the “solution with the biggest impact to overcome the crisis” award category.
The team's solution's innovation lies in the design of the product that makes it a much-needed, affordable single-use product compared to the expensive alternatives that are on the market. Over the course of the hackathon, the team validated the product through surveying several medical professionals, who all expressed support for its development.
LMT submitted a total of five challenges to the hackathon, all of which were collected through various discussions with state organizations about the challenges they are currently facing. The additional ideas submitted by LMT included:
- The digitization of cultural events – how to support performers in a time when concerts and events are banned
- Big data – develop applications for the population movement data provided by LMT and the University of Latvia
- Unemployment platform – a platform to help those who have lost work due to the virus to find employment opportunities
- Product delivery – a platform for product deliveries
This hackathon is one of multiple initiatives taken on by LMT during the pandemic. LMT has mobilized its resources – financial, human, and technological – to provide maximum support to the organizations dealing with the repercussions of the virus. CrisisLab is the 3rd hackathon that LMT has supported through financial and mentorship means. LMT has also donated over 1000 devices and connectivity services to hospitals to speed up the pace of digitization, and is involved in developing a Covid-19 tracing app.
LMT has been transitioning from a classical telecommunication provider to a technological service provider. Years of R&D developing new export products have led to the formation of a robust innovations department. Over the course of the state of emergency, this innovations department has worked closely with state organizations to extend their knowledge in innovation management to support the country in overcoming the crisis as quickly as possible.
Because LMT is the operator in Latvia with the largest segment of business users, LMT has established a wide network of partners and clients. This places it in the best position to act as a connector for the process of innovation to combine the necessary resources for the fastest growth.