From 10 to 12 July, 18 teams with a total of 80 participants from 15 European countries competed in the Code4Green environmental data hackathon organised by the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU). For 36 hours, innovative minds from all over Europe developed data-driven solutions and business models designed to benefit climate action, conserve biodiversity and promote circular economy.
Federal Environment Minister Schulze remarked: "It is impressive to see how quickly the teams came up with innovative applications using open European data. Digitalisation creates unique opportunities to combine innovation and sustainability. And it enables new forms of cooperation. The teams organised their work entirely online and proved how strong Europe can be when we pull together. This is the spirit I want to embrace in the Presidency."
The second BMU hackathon was completely virtual and took place against the backdrop of the German EU Council Presidency: over the next six months, one issue the BMU will focus on during the Presidency is digitalisation and the environment.
The hackathon was supported by the European Commission, the European Environment Agency, the Prototype Fund, the German digital association Bitkom, the Helmholtz Innovation & Data Science Academy and the Leaders for Climate Action initiative and included coaching for the teams and selection of the high-ranking jury. The total of nine teams presented their prototypes on 12 July. The three first prizes were awarded to the teams Greenspector (Climate Change challenge), Wellbeeing (Biodiversity challenge) and RosAthene (Circular Economy challenge).
Greenspector presented an app prototype that recognises companies by scanning a product or logo and compiles sustainability reports from different sources to form a transparent overall result. The app is designed to help consumers decide what to buy and create transparency for sustainable investments. Wellbeeing is intended to help beekeepers and farmers share information and implement European environmental legislation and to strengthen research and local administrations in monitoring the health and development of bee populations in Europe.
The RosAthene project combines local data on plastic waste with satellite images from the European Earth Observation programme Copernicus to gain a better understanding of the origin and accumulation of plastic waste and to manage clean-up initiatives more effectively.
The three winners of the jury award will share the prize money of 10,000 euros.
The people’s choice award went to the Wisely app, which enables private households to plan their energy consumption based on the current and forecast availability of energy from renewable sources. Carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced through this contribution to the smart management of electricity demand. In the coming months, the four winning teams will be mentored to further develop their prototypes, which they will present at the EU environment ministers’ meeting in Berlin at the end of September.
On 13 July, the Federal Environment Minister joined her 26 counterparts to discuss how the EU can become a pioneer in digital solutions for environmental protection. A panel discussion at the Hackathon awards ceremony gave a preview: together with Francesca Bria (President of the Italian Innovation Fund), Hans Bruyninckx (Executive Director of the European Environment Agency) and Lukasz Gadowski (founder of Team Europe), Svenja Schulze discussed mapping out the political course for sustainable digitalisation and a value-driven tech-ecosystem in the EU.
Schulze concluded: "After the presentation of the Digital Policy Agenda for the Environment in March, we are now elevating the issue of digitisation and the environment to the European level. In the next few months, we will discuss how we in Europe can set up energy- and resource-efficient digital infrastructures and how we can use technologies such as artificial intelligence specifically for climate change mitigation and nature conservation. By the end of our Presidency, we want Europe to speak with a single voice."