On a sunny Friday morning, the IoT-EPI Challenge started bright and early at 9 AM (which is quite early, for Berlin standards) with an introductory talk for the participants and the media to get the rundown of the day.
This wasn’t a typical idea-hackathon. Collaboration was key. The goal was to work on challenges in the fields that the projects are already active in, with an emphasis on integrating their existing technology into the solutions, and exchanging ideas with the mentors (who were IoT-EPI members). Around 30 participants from 12 teams had a go at one of three challenges – ‘Trust’, ‘Mobility’, and ‘Retail’. The Trust challenge was run by INTERIoT and bIoTope; Mobility was run by symbIoTe; and Retail by BIGIoT, TagITSmart!, and AGILE.
The challenge wasn’t so much about developing technical frameworks, because the projects were building and providing those themselves. The purpose of the challenge was motivating teams to create feasible, applicable, business ideas that could turn into real-world solutions. How did the judges pick the winners? Teams could get a maximum of 9 points, divided into three categories:
- Team dynamic
- Potential for future collaboration with IoT EPI platforms
InterIoT and bIoTope were the mentors of the 6 teams that participated in this challenge. It was the most sought-after challenge, with the highest number of applicants. In it, the teams were confronted with an issue that might sound abstract at first. What does ‘trust’ mean for IoT? Trusting platforms? Trusting partners? Trusting technologies? Trusting data? Trusting people? In this challenge, participants could chose between two scenarios:
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- ‘Port’, where 2 teams were tasked to find solutions for trust issues among different IoT platforms responsible for handling different day-to-day elements of port functioning e.g. port authority, cargo loaders, docks, etc;
- and ‘University’, where 4 additional teams worked with the same task, but applied to different day-to-day elements of identity-based University benefits e.g. library access, food court access, etc.
The Mobility challenge was unlike the Trust challenge, in that it gave participants some more freedom to experiment, since there were no defined scenarios within the smart mobility topic. SymbIoTe mentored three teams, two of which were already established startups – Innroute (Spain), and Inovatica (Poland).
The biggest challenge in terms of mentoring projects (BIGIoT, TagITSmart!, and AGILE), it was similar to the mobility challenge in its experimental freedom. It was also the one where the jury found the winner of the overall IoT-EPI Challenge. One team, lead by Rahul Tomar, focused on developing a solution to urban food waste, and the other, thingk-design, built an IoT solution for tool sharing.
To sum up the day’s work, each team had 3 minutes to pitch in front of an audience of other teams, mentors, project leaders, media, and IoT-EPI. The only rule – no self-promotion. This was all about the problems and their solutions.
“The challenge wasn’t only exhilarating because of the time limit. It was exciting because of the fact that we get to work with something new, and with great technology”.
- Florian Pichler, team Essentim
Since a lion’s share of participants have experience (or are active) in startups and pitching, the round was very entertaining, lighting fast, and had some truly excellent speakers. This, of course, did not make the jury’s decision any easier. The pitch round was done, and it was time for the judges to decide who won each category, and who was the best team overall.
In the end, the proposals that made the smartest use of IoT to solve the task at hand, ended up being the winners.
The judges found that:
- thingk-design‘s ‘toolstation’ (Retail)
- Innroute (Mobility)
- and Digital Partners‘s ‘Legal Harbor'(Trust)
were the projects with the highest potential for ‘real-life’ success.
If you’ve been reading carefully, by now, you’ll know that thingk-design was the overall winner of the IoT-EPI Challenge 2017! They are developing toolstation, a smart sharing system which provides professional grade tools for everyone, round the clock. It provides an ecosystem including manufacturers of tools and wearparts; a social network for DIY-instructions with crowd-sourced info material such as videos, manuals, etc; a cross-selling-platform for construction materials, as well as a smartphone app for end users. This team was the one that, on one hand, who could leverage the most synergies with existing IoT-EPI projects, and on the other, offered to seamlessly integrate BIGIoT‘s, TagITSmart!‘s, and AGILE‘s technology.
Open doors for future collaboration
The work of other teams did not go unnoticed. Several runners-up across categories were encouraged to further develop their projects and make use of the resources that are available through the various Open Calls throughout the year.
“We’ve had a great time in Berlin, gathering feedback for our projects, making new connections, and getting such amazing mentorship from the IoT-EPI projects. It’s really exciting to be challenged in this way”
- Adam Cavallari, team nooncare
IoT brings accessible solutions to day-to-day problems, bringing high-tech to the home, and to society in general. The efforts to make the IoT-connected world a reality are multilateral and therefore based on collaboration and trust, which is the basis to every long-lasting, fruitful, and productive relationship.
The latter is both what the IoT-EPI Challenge (and the IoT-EPI Week as a whole) is all about, and exactly what came out of it – successfully implementing a “from-lab-to-market” approach, that enabled collaboration amongst the IoT-EPI projects, as well as the future collaboration with ecosystem partners, such as entrepreneurs, developers, corporates, VCs and other multipliers in the field of IoT. The projects’ technologies paired with the teams’ curiosity and willingness to join forces to make viable solutions, were, in the end, the driving forces behind the event’s atmosphere of trust, collaboration, and boundless potential for open innovation.
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