The First Balkan Hackathon is over

The first Balkan hackathon is over. It was held under the slogan "Overcoming the Digital Boundaries in the Balkans", organized by the EC Representation in Bulgaria, the Sofia Municipality and the Sofia Development Association, the State Agency for Electronic Governance, Sofia Tech Park and Webit. Of the 30 teams from nine countries that participated in the 24-hour coding competition, 24 managed to achieve a demo version and a minimal viable product to present before the jury.

Nine teams reached the final. Etirial team from Kosovo developed a smart app for a "smart family" - for assigning tasks and reminding everyone of shopping, billing and family budgeting. Swift team from Macedonia developed a virtual administrative assistant, a messenger-based application for communicating with the local authorities: citizens can ask questions and receive answers based on artificial intelligence. Two school teams from TUES reached the finals: Infinity +1 and Hashovete. Hashovete developed a demo of computer-aided device that allows the use of a voice assistant for visually impaired people. Infinity +1 tried to make artificial intelligence accessible for any user through application for systematization and summarization of text files and images.  Wakanda Forever from Bulgaria made a model of an online university. Another Bulgarian team, Spoko developed a speech assistant Anna in Bulgarian language based on the model of Alexa and Google Home, 24 hours voice-trained to read news and to switch on and off household appliances.

The grand prize of EUR 5000, provided by A1, and participation in the European Coding Week in Brussels at the invitation of EU Commissioner Maria Gabriel, was awarded to the Bulgarian team BookvAR for application for added textbook reality. The team received also a special EUR 500 prize from the Ministry of Education and Science.

Another Bulgarian team, ХРNСТО ranked second with a gaming application for cash-in of good deeds: If you are donating blood, planting trees or doing other meaningful public work, you win a virtual currency that is refunded through access to municipal services such as parking lots, entrance to museums and concerts. The prize is worth EUR 2500.

Third place was won by a team from Serbia, Balkan Reconnect, with an internet platform for e-commerce for the products of artisans from the Balkans. They received EUR 1500. The cash prizes for second and third place were provided by Sofia Municipality (Sofia Development Association).

Several special prizes were also awarded. Green Sofia awarded EUR 500 to the team Waste Hate Map from Macedonia for an app to report on illegal waste disposal. The award of the Sofia Development Association - a scholarship for n the new Innovative Sofia Laboratory, accredited to Sofia University "St. Kl. Ohridski" went to the girls’ team Winners from “Baba Tonka” School in Rousse. The EC Representation invited the contestants from five teams: Spoko, Hashove, Waste Hate Map, BMPKP and ХРNСТО, in September to visit Brussels and the European institutions.

The Hackathon showed in action the breaking of the Balkan borders and confirmed that creativity is the greatest resource for the development of connectivity.