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What are the EIT Alumni Challenges? 

The EIT Alumni Community launched the EIT Alumni Challenges: a series of online ideation challenges, focused on solving current societal and environmental challenges. This is the opportunity for you, EIT Alumni to connect with one another, harness your talent and work together on developing cutting-edge ideas and solutions to build long term resilience for society. 

EIT Alumni Challenge #2: EFSA Hackathon 'fake news detection' 2021 


As a result of the collaboration between the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and EIT Alumni, a Hackathon contest for the Design of an Artificial Intelligence solution to detect fake news using EFSA’s body of scientific opinions was organised.

The overall objective of this contest was to enhance some of the EFSA key values, such as openness and innovation in order to enable stakeholders to understand the basis of EFSA’s scientific work in an innovative manner and engage a wider community around it. The specific objective of the hackathon was to come up with a prototype of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) solution to detect fake news in the area of Food and Feed Safety, leveraging the whole EFSA’s body of Scientific Opinions, from its foundation to present days.

On 20 February 2021, the opening session of the online hackathon took place with Jeroen van Lent, President of the EIT Digital Alumni Foundation as well as Vice President of EIT Alumni, Barbara Gallani, Head of EFSA’s Communication, Engagement, and Cooperation Department and Jan Grotenbreg, developing and managing the DeepHack open innovation programme at EIT Digital.

The participants had a full weekend on 20 and 21 February 2021 of hacking and creating their solution. Teams were tasked to analyse shared statements such as ‘Excess salt is your deadly enemy’ or ‘One cup of coffee can improve your focus’ and provide a credibility score based on proposed solution. Once the weekend was over the jury took over and started the evaluation of all submitted solutions. The Award Ceremony took place on 19 March 2021 with Bernhard Url, EFSA Executive Director and Martin Kern, EIT Director.

We need to build a community around methods to detect fake news. This is not only to secure scientific information is not superseded by a swamp of fake stories. The danger of disinformation goes much further: it undermines trust in the democratic institutions and it is an assault on the open society.

Bernhard Url, EFSA Executive Director

The role of the hackathon was to leverage the best brains in the European Union and to ignite interest to the topic of fake news together with proposing remedies for this phenomenon.

Martin Kern, presented the role of innovation as such in tackling societal challenges as well as the role of collaboration between EU agencies, including the engagement of the EIT Alumni.

Innovation happens if you work together. If you go outside the boundaries, outside your comfort zone, if we work with people you normally would not work with and if you try new ideas.

Martin Kern, EIT Director

The importance of artificial intelligence technology in driving innovations was outlined in the context of growing numbers of EIT projects in this field and across different sectors.

Top 5 solutions

  • First prize EUR 7 000:  Asclepium Oracle team of 10 members from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • Second prize EUR 6 000: Food Busters team with Zacharoula Theodorakopoulou, Timotheos Lanitis, Simona Mladenova and Mihalis Papakonstantinou
  • Third prize EUR 5 000: Dane Mitrev and Luca Coviello, EIT Digital Alumni
  • Fourth prize EUR 3 500: Marvin Mouroum, Lauri Laatu, Mayank Yadav and Jonathan Smyth, EIT Digital Alumni
  • Fifth prize EUR 3 500: Honest Food team with Alettea Tordai from EIT Digital Alumni and Dim Hoogeveen

More information

Guidance and application documents

EIT Alumni Challenge #1: Covid-19 Map & Act 2020

In June 2020, the Alumni Community launched the EIT Alumni Challenge COVID-19: Map & Act. The goal was to bring together alumni to map lessons learned, explore opportunities, and find ways to build a long-term resilient society.

It asked the key question: What can European citizens and institutions do to mitigate and overcome the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on our society?

  • What are good practices in your country, region or community, that could be widely adapted? 
  • Which areas of improvements do you identify?  
  • What ideas can emerge from the EIT Alumni Community and its diverse expertise?

Speakers and jury members throughout the day included Emanuele Baldacci, the Director of Digital Services at the European Commission’s DirectorateGeneral for Informatics, João Figueirinhas Costa, CEO at Garage48 Foundation and experienced hackathon organiser and Dr Ursula Mühle, Former EIT Health Education Director, currently supporting the Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority manage the COVID-19 crisis. Participants were asked to map good practices and lessons learnt to come up with innovative ideas for immediate responses or long-term measures. Each idea went through the ideation, evaluation, suggesting improvement and refining process.

The winning idea was a platform to connect local producers and consumers, strengthening food production ecosystems in a sustainable manner while enabling consumers to discover local services. Other winning ideas included recycling and upcycling e-waste in order to distribute it to people who currently lack access to technology and an IoT tracing chip based on multiparty crypto to prevent data leaks in a time where data can save lives. Overall, participants were able to develop innovative ideas tackling the COVID-19 crisis, work together with their peers from various professional backgrounds, meet inspiring speakers dealing with the COVID-19 crisis and get feedback from the community and experts from the EIT ecosystem.

EIT Health Alumni Hackathon - Building Resilient Societies On 6 June, over the course of 8 hours, the EIT Health Alumni Network, hosted their first online hackathon to develop and improve some of the most promising digital solutions to build a resilient and more caring European society. One unique aspect of this hackathon was that patients were included in the teams to ensure that the ideas and projects were fit for real needs. The winning team project is based on creating an affordable, personalised early warning system to monitor for early signs of COVID-19 symptoms with the use of a phone camera. They have already entered into discussions with N3xtcoder to design the perfect product Lab to take their idea forward and will have access to a team of marketing, coding, and business development experts, as well as EUR 3,000 from EIT Health.

At the first EIT Alumni Challenge Participants were able to:

  • Develop innovative ideas tackling the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Work together with participants from various professional backgrounds.
  • Meet inspiring speakers dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Get feedback from a diverse community and experts from the EIT ecosystem.
  • Get the chance to see your idea appear in the top five winning ideas that will receive visibility through the EIT Community and be explored for further development.

Closing Webinar

Get ready to learn about some Covid-19 response initiatives and support programmes from some EIT Knowledge Innovation Communities, but also to discover the 5 winning ideas and their owners and the next steps they will go through for further development. The session was moderated by EIT Alumni President and EIT Health Alumni President Miguel Amador.

You can watch the closing webinar here