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Innovations designed by students set to help Czech economy

Organizers – members of the public, companies, students and staff at FIT

The first Czech student online hackathon UniHack: Innovate the Czech Republic took place from 1 to 3 May 2020. The aim of the competition was to come up with innovations that would help companies, institutions and organizations to reduce the negative impact of the current situation. The event was attended by 112 hackers who were presented with 55 specific challenges to solve. The first place was taken by a team of students whose project involved creating a social network for teachers.

5 topics, 24 teams, 112 hackers, 63 mentors, 55 challenges and 20 submitted projects – this is what the 3-day non-stop online hackathon looked like. The topics selected by the organizers included: A city serving the people, Education for the future, Transformation and stabilization of companies, AI and the use of data potential, Smarter healthcare. The submitted projects dealt with greenery in cities, digitization of health questionnaires, a social network for teachers, and school tests.

The team of innovators called MlyKo won first prize in the competition while also winning the “Education for the Future” category with a project called Tvůrčitelé (Teachers-creators).

“Tvůrčitelé is an online platform that connects teachers who want to do things differently. It is a social network for teachers that can be used to share inspiration, experience, procedures and tips for using tools,” says David Koutný, one of the project’s co-authors.

The authors also took CZK 30,000 in prize money. A special prize was awarded by the Faculty of Information Technology to the project Pošli testy (Send tests). The award went to a team of students from CTU and Tomas Bata University in Zlín called “Czechoslovakia in Taiwan”. In their project, they developed online tools for more effective teaching.

“What our application does is that it brings together students and teachers. If, for some reason, a student cannot come to school, they can simply upload their work in pdf to the school system, which can then process the uploaded documents better using our application,” explains Jiří Hanuš, a FIT CTU student and co-creator of the app.

This useful app is used for evaluation and correction of written tests and it’s connected to the school systems for registration of marks and evaluation. The creators took home a FIT CTU award worth CZK 30,000.

UniHack was created on the initiative of students who did not want to be passive observers of the economic consequences of the current crisis and came up with the idea to set up an innovation hackathon. Within just a few days they created a hackathon together with FIT CTU, CEE Hacks, and Thanks to the hackathon’s partners including AstraZeneca, Uniqway, Operátor ICT, FIT CTU and Mavericks the winners received valuable prizes.

“When our students and graduates approached us with the idea to organize a hackathon to help society cope with the crisis and its effects, we were thinking really hard about how to make it work,” says doc. Marcel Jiřina, dean of FIT CTU, adding: “We knew from HackFIT, a very successful hackathon that FIT organized just before the outbreak of the pandemic, that personal contact and interaction with participants was absolutely crucial. However, now is the time when everybody has to take risks, so we decided to fully support the online event.”

Companies and institutions have the opportunity to use this crisis to innovate. The projects created in the UniHack hackathon can be used in practice and have the potential to be further developed in cooperation with companies, cities or state institutions to benefit the whole society.