ENHANCE Hackathon 2024 at Warsaw University of Technology

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Student-led initiative attracts new record of applications 🚀👨‍🎓👩‍🎓

On May 24-26, 2024, the Warsaw University of Technology (WUT) hosted the ENHANCE Hackathons, bringing together some of the brightest minds from across Europe. Organized by the WUT Student Government, the Herbion Biotechnology Scientific Circle, and the Center for International Cooperation, in collaboration with student circles from the Warsaw School of Economics, the event featured two simultaneous international hackathons: the Smart City Challenge and the BioHackathon.

Out of more than 540 applicants, 91 participants were selected to travel to Warsaw and take part in the event. These participants represented 13 European universities, including Chalmers University of Technology, ETH Zurich, Gdańsk University of Technology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Politecnico di Milano, Rhine-Westphalia Technical University of Aachen, Technische Universität Berlin, Technische Universiteit Delft, Universitat Politècnica de València, Warsaw University of Technology, National Technical University of Ukraine (Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute), Lviv Polytechnic National University, and Warsaw School of Economics.

Thanks to funding from the NAWA Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange, 14 students from Ukraine participated in both hackathons. These students hailed from our ENHANCE associated partners, namely the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, and Lviv Polytechnic National University.

The immense popularity and success of the hackathons among the student bodies of ENHANCE partner universities highlight the effectiveness of the initiative. Originally conceived during meetings of the ENHANCE Student Forum, the hackathons demonstrate the benefits of closely collaborating with students to create engaging and impactful opportunities. This approach ensures that the activities not only enrich the students’ academic journeys but also provide real-life benefits and experiences.

ENHANCE Hackathon teams hard at work.

The ENHANCE Smart City Challenge aimed to unite technical and business students to create innovative solutions for modern urban problems. Meanwhile, the ENHANCE BioHackathon encouraged participants to develop creative solutions for existing environmental issues.

As part of a team-building activity, members of PW’s Herbion biotechnology research club organized a field game for BioHackathon participants, introducing them to the concept of a circular economy. During the inauguration on Friday, Grzegorz Robak, Director of the Center for International Cooperation at WUT, welcomed the participants, who were then divided into international project teams to work intensively for the next 48 hours.

ENHANCE Hackathon participants at WUT

Participants in the Smart City Challenge benefited from mentorship sessions and lectures on topics such as idea generation, pitching, and product creation. BioHackathon participants attended a series of lectures on circular economy and waste valorization, delivered by experts from academia and industry.

On Sunday, the hackathon culminated in parallel pitching sessions, where teams presented their projects to a panel of judges. The Smart City Challenge jury included Łukasz Dwulit, Grzegorz Ganczewski, Wojciech Jeznach, Mariusz Zieja, and Agata Żak. The BioHackathon projects were evaluated by Prof. Joanna Cieśla, Prof. Agnieszka Gadomska-Gajadhur, PhD, Anna Iuliano, PhD, Katarzyna Dąbkowska-Susfał, PhD, and Kamil Wierzchowski, PhD.

The winning team of the ENHANCE Smart Citiy Challenge.

The top prize in the Smart City Challenge was awarded to a team from ETH Zurich, NTNU, TUB, and WUT for their project “LIMPIFY,” focused on city-wide garbage cleanup. The BioHackathon’s first prize went to a team for their project on converting cigarette butts into hyaluronic acid using bacteria.

The winners received a check for 2,000 euros, while other participants were awarded gifts and diplomas. The event was sponsored by ENHANCE, NAWA, the Polish National Chamber of Commerce for Electronics and Telecommunications, LG Energy Solution Wrocław Sp. z o.o., and Red Bull.