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The European Citizens Hackathon Championship arrives at its halfway point: what has been and what will be

Article written by Alejandro Rodenas – Projects intern

After the first six months of the initiative, a massive effort and international participation, the European Citizens Hackathon Championship is about to reach the halfway point.

Defined as a series of intense events where teams of entrepreneurial developers and designers come together to build innovative solutions to real-world problems, this initiative allowed several entities in Europe to organise local competitions, where different teams competed in proposing the best solutions to the problems presented under the topic of climate change fight.  So far, the championship has welcomed more than 150 participants from around 17 countries in the first eight hackathons that took place during the spring. This impressive turnout is a testament to the enthusiasm and commitment of individuals across Europe to address pressing societal challenges.

Guided by facilitators, mentors, teachers, and jury members, multidisciplinary teams have been navigating through a set of workshops to co-design and prototype their solutions tailored to specific challenges proposed by citizens. These workshops have provided a structured environment for participants to collaborate, innovate, and develop practical solutions. The collaborative nature of the hackathons has fostered a sense of community and shared purpose among participants.

During these weeks, several interesting initiatives were presented, which raised or tried to give an answer to the climate problems that cities across Europe are facing. These issues include efficient waste management, energy transformation, cleaning systems, and general aspects related to climate change, pollution, and global warming. The diversity of solutions reflects the broad range of expertise and creativity among the participants, highlighting the potential for grassroots innovation to contribute to global sustainability goals.

At the halfway point of the championship, it is time for the winners of the national hackathons to join the first training program during the next summer months. This training programme is designed to provide comprehensive support and guidance through a series of structured modules. Each module focuses on key areas essential for the successful development and implementation of innovative solutions.

Participants will engage in masterclasses, guided practice, and assignments tailored to enhance their skills in project management, innovation methodologies, financial planning, marketing, and more. The training program aims to equip participants with the knowledge and skills needed to refine their projects and prepare for the next stages of the competition.

By the end of the programme, participants will have gained practical knowledge and hands-on experience, preparing them to effectively tackle real-world challenges and bring their innovative ideas to fruition. The program's emphasis on practical application ensures that participants are not only learning theoretical concepts but also applying them in meaningful ways. This experiential learning approach is crucial for fostering innovation and developing solutions that can be implemented in real-world contexts.

We are happy to share that a second batch of local hackathons is scheduled to take place from September on in multiple countries such as Belgium, Malta, France, and Germany, among others. Registrations are still open in order to ensure that the championship remains inclusive and accessible to a wide range of participants, encouraging diverse perspectives and innovative ideas.

In light of this, a second round of the training programme abovementioned will also be delivered during the autumn to the second batch of local winners, before all the winning teams meet in the exciting grand final next November. This staggered approach ensures that all participants have access to the same level of support and preparation, regardless of when their national hackathon took place.

The grand final will bring in Brussels the top teams from across Europe, providing an opportunity for them to showcase their solutions on a larger stage and compete for the championship title and price. The winning three teams of the final championship will be awarded a monetary prize (€5.000 each) and a curated follow-up plan to help them develop the idea with the key actors involved.

Through the EU Sparks for Climate website, you can find more details about upcoming events, registration processes, and the challenges participants will tackle.

There is still time to get involved, make a difference and have your ideas financed. Do not miss this opportunity!