The European Commission hackathon and subsequent ‘matchathon’ events resulted in more than 2,235 partnerships with 120 projects designed to help tackle coronavirus and its consequences around the world.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has supported the EU Commission’s #EUvsVirus hackathon challenge, which called for innovative ideas to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company is now supporting all 120 selected projects via the AWS Activate program, which is designed to help start-ups build their business.

In total, #EUvsVirus created 2,164 multi-disciplinary, multi-nationality teams with innovative solutions throughout April. It then sparked the development of 2,235 new cross-European partnerships by matching the best 120 teams with 500 supportive partners from the public and private sectors throughout May.

Enabling collaboration

The world record hackathon saw more than 21,000 participants in 3,500 teams present ideas to an expert jury including academics, public authorities, corporate partners, and venture capitalists.

According to the European Commission, this went on to become the biggest matchmaking exercise ever organised in the world with 1,500 curated meetings and 2,235 new partnerships brokered.

“The ‘EUvsVirus’ initiative has been an incredible opportunity for partners such as start-ups, creators, private businesses and universities to work together to tackle the impact of coronavirus – not only in Europe, but around the world,” said Isidro Laso, Deputy Head of Innovation Ecosystems - EIC (European DARPA) at the European Commission.

“With support from our partners, like AWS, these projects have been able to move from an idea to a viable solution in less than six weeks. These projects have the potential to positively impact people’s lives in a number of ways, with many of them already making a real difference.”

Impact projects

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Entries were submitted in six categories: health and life, business continuity, remote working and education, social and political cohesion, digital finance and other challenges.

Jurors then selected ideas based on a range of factors such as feasibility, scalability, likely impact and use of funds, cutting the first round of entries down to 120 final projects.

The European Commission has reported that the event resulted in a number of world records in the history of hackathons, including:

· 2,235 new partnerships brokered

· 1,500 curated meetings

· 200 ‘speed dates’

· 500+ partners

· 120 projects

· 40 countries

Selected projects include BrightAct, an initiative from Sweden, which offers a free app providing support and information for those in an abusive relationship or concerned about domestic violence during lockdown.

Meanwhile in Madrid, Spain, medtech start-up REhaBUILD is using Virtual Reality, smartphones and wearable tech for physiotherapy rehabilitation treatments – without the need for patients to leave their homes.

These examples illustrate how the innovations borne out of this crisis are being designed and built to outlast it.

As a main partner in the initiative, AWS is supporting these start-ups in number of ways.

Firstly, all 120 projects are able to access commercial credits through AWS Activate, a pre-existing programme to help start-ups build their business. As part of the programme, start-ups can receive promotional credits, plus they can access technical support from AWS Solutions Architects, dedicated Account Managers, free tools and third party offers. The programme has run globally for 13 years, benefiting 86,000+ companies such as Airbnb and Lyft.

AWS has also deployed additional resources such as mentors and webinar videos that make it easy for start-ups to make the best use of the available tools and services.

The company has supported similar hackathons in individual countries, such as Hack the Crisis in Sweden, #StopCorona in Spain, Garage48’s Hack the Crisis in Estonia, TechChill HackForce 2020 in Latvia, Hack the Crisis in Lithuania and the global online hackathon BuildforCOVID19.

Find out more about how AWS is supporting people and organisations in their response to COVID-19.