The Energy Barn at the Zernike Campus was the place to be for hackers throughout Europe on October 14 to 16, during the Hacked for Energy Hackathon. About 40 enthusiasts worked on innovative and creative solutions for sustainable energy transition last weekend, in a tireless 48 hour marathon. Four teams went home with cash prizes, with Ecocoin as the biggest winner, receiving €5000 for the Best Overall Hack.
The hackathon was organized by Hackitarians, IBM, Engie, Energy Academy Europe and the Groningen provincial and municipal governments. In this pressure cooker for ideas, IT developers, programmers and graphic designers collaborated in teams on complex energy challenges during the weekend.
Hackathons: a new way of collaborating
Engie Innovation Support Officer Wisse Hummel was pleasantly surprised by the energy solutions offered by the competing teams: “I noticed a lot of participants from different backgrounds and different skill sets worked incredibly well together and came up with working prototypes in the time span of just one weekend. These prototypes show a lot of potential, not just for us, but for society as a whole.”
Teams were formed and challenges were discussed on Friday, with competing teams working round the clock until the big presentation on Sunday. Of course, all that hard work was compensated with food, drinks, a place to sleep, and the chance to win one of the cash prizes.
Big data, the Internet of Things, everything came together during the hackathon. IBM provided not only the software to work with their Watson A.I. computer and blockchain technology, the tech giant also provided the teams with specialists to help out. On Sunday, eight teams presented their idea on front of a jury of experts from IBM and Engie, and Groningen economic affairs alderman Joost van Keulen.
Team Ecocoin (with participants from Germany and the US) came out ahead as the big winner, with their idea for a bitcoin based energy marketplace, where companies and consumers can buy or sell energy, and a way to visualize the resulting energy consumption and production. It took some time for the team to come up with their winning idea, leaving them only 25 hours of hard work to catch up with the other competing teams, and go home with a cash prize of €5000.
But Ecocoin wasn’t the only prize winning team. Best Design went to the WATT the Truck team, Best Commercial Concept to smart energy butler James and Best Technology went to ‘Joris’, a cheap sensor that monitors energy consumption and stores it in the Cloud.
The ownership of concepts and prototypes will remain with the individual competing teams, and it’s likely that some of these ideas will be picked up by the investors and companies sponsoring the hackathon.