Winning team of the 2nd CASSINI Hackathon. From left, Roman Pechenkin, Christina Rodriguez, Marco Pizzolato, Cécile Chauvat and Filomena Cerniute. Sandra Rós Hrefnu Jónsdóttir is missing on the picture.

On 5-7 November, hundreds of participants came together to participate in the 2nd CASSINI Hackathon: Connecting the Arctic. The hackathon took place in 10 European countries simultaneously. Startup Iceland was the local organizer for the Icelandic hackathon in Reykjavík University. All the European city hackathons had a shared goal: to solve the challenges faced in the Arctic region.

Startup Iceland has for many years been hosting hackathons in Iceland and this time we managed to gather a strong group of expert mentors that helped assist participants with their ideas. This group included Ari Jónsson former NASA scientist and RU President, Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson former member of parliament and software engineer, Daniel Leep mission director of the Iceland Space Agency, Paula Gould founder of Float and Gather ehf, Susan Christianen former tech transfer officer for ESA, Jóhann Þórsson ecologist at the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland (SCSI) and many more. 

Participating teams faced three different challenges and were tasked to address one or more of them: Safe passage at sea, Life on land and Caring for our wildlife 

At the end of the hackathon weekend, more than 70 projects were submitted by close to 300 innovators across Europe. The most popular challenge participants chose to address was life on land. Teams were asked to develop ideas or design products, devices, or services that improve our understanding of the effects of climate change in the Northern regions or mitigate the impact of these changes. Many other projects focused on developing services that ensure seafaring vessels have safe passage at sea and developed ideas to better understand and protect the wildlife. The winning team in Iceland was the Arctic Soil Erosion team. The team’s solution was to use geographical data and images from the European Space Agency’s satellites to detect the early stages of land degradation and decline in the Arctic. Also their solution would be able to assess changes in the condition of the land. This approach provides an opportunity to access information on land degradation and erosion that has until now been largely accessible through conventional ground research and surveys. Utilizing satellite imagery and data in the way proposed by the Icelandic Team can save a lot of time, cost and make the evaluation process more efficient.

The winning teams from each location were selected by the local jury members to move forward to the Demo Day & Awards Ceremony on 10 November. You can access more information about all the winning teams here.
During the Demo Day & Awards Ceremony, each of the 10 local winners had the opportunity to present their ideas in a 2-minute pitch to the CASSINI expert jury. After the live pitches, the jury members engaged the teams with questions before evaluating each of the local winners. In the end, the winning team of the CASSINI Hackathon was the Icelandic team! They received a local prize of 5000 Euros and 100 hours of expert mentoring from the EU to support them with the development of their ideas. We at Startup Iceland are very proud of our winning team and all the participants and mentors that attended the hackathon and helped create this awesome event. We will continue to provide all the hackathon participants with the help they need and we look forward to see how these projects will develop in the future.

The full event is here

Watch the pitch from the Icelandic team about tackling soil erosion below.