The hot temperatures this weekend in Bucharest didn’t stop a bunch of motivated hackers, designers, marketers and tech enthusiasts to get together to brainstorm ideas and build working prototypes. With the support of our great partners TechHub Bucharest and Microsoft, a hackathon on e-governance took place. We were humbled to have such strong support also from the Romanian government who has already embarked on this project to innovate the existing systems and is keen on including the local tech community in doing so.
The hackathon had opening words from both, the minister delegate of Romanians abroad Dan Stoenescu and the counsler to the Prime Minister of Romania Dan Nechita. Both of them are the spokespeople of connecting Romanians digitally not only locally but also internationally. Dan Stoenescu was there to give extra support to his colleauges who took part in the hackathon building a platform to crowdfund money to a famous Romanian art piece “Wisdom of the Earth”. Dan Nechita, who is a specialist in IT and Cybersecurity was hinting of a project to be launched soon that is a special HUB to develop local e-services.
The hackathon proved that the tech startup culture in Romania is rapidly growing. With approximately 100 000 ICT specialists nationwide and ca 300 home-grown startups in the country (romanianstartups.com) Romania is one of the promising startup hubs in Europe. Besides having the highest number of IT specialists per capita on the continent, it is also praised for focusing on education and working on building the ecosystem to raise the access to capital and enhance the entrepreneurial risk-taking culture. In an environment like this, it is natural that the government is making an effort to follow the innovation and set objectives for the public administration bodies to enhance efficiency, transparency and accessibility. That is why our team of Garage48 experts on building tech startups and human-centered e-services were excited to visit Bucharest for a 48-hour hackathon for digitalizing governance. As the moderator of the event and co-founder of Garage48 Priit Salumaa said: “Garage48 is not a startup fabric. These events are held to raise awareness on relevant topics and to network and spark co-operation between different stakeholders.” In this case the goal was to build a bridge between the government and the implementers, to share the international and local trends and approaches in e-governance and to find ways to give Romanian citizens a voice in building the country’s e-government framework. Also the event is for exploring and learning about new technological solutions, as Yuriy Zaytsev, the business development director of Microsoft, concluded: “We are happy to have partnered with Garage48 on the “Digitalizing Governance” hackathon and helping to boost innovation in Romanian public sector. By providing both technology expertise as well as domain knowledge we could help participating teams validate concepts and develop solution prototypes, and potentially we can support them in implementing best solutions in real-life scenarios. Having a digitalized governance process is one big step to make in improving Romanian citizens life.”
Garage48 mentor's team
The mentors team at the event consisted of entrepreneurs and specialists from Estonia and Romania: Helen Kokk (co-founder and art director @ design agency MadeBy), Laura Savu (premier support engineer @ Microsoft Romania), Radu Stefan (technical evangelist @ Microsoft), Denis Chiurtu (startups & academic evangelist @ Microsoft), Andres Susi (serial tech entrepreneur, VC), Priit Salumaa (co-founder @ Garage48, co-founder of software company Mooncascade), Krists Avots (Director of Business Development @ Lattelecom), Margus Simson (CEO and co-founder of service design agency Ziraff concentrating on e-services not only in Estonia but internationally). With the help of this impressive bunch of mentors five teams were intensely working on their idea over the 48 hour period. Ready to take on the challenge all of them delivered a stellar pitch at the Sunday night final which made the decision for the jury extra hard. It actually proved so hard that for the first time in Garage48 history the first place had to be shared between 2 teams. So without further ado, here are the awarded teams from Garage48 Bucharest “Digitalizing Governance” hackathon:
"Wisdom of the Earth" team
Buy back the Wisdom of the Earth is the first crowdfounding campaign initiated at a national level in Romania by the government in over a century. We want to help so we took a great idea and made it better. We sell the statue, pixel by pixel, giving everybody who donates a deeper sense of ownership. Donors get to see their logo linked to a patrimony piece, and when the pixels are sold out, we all get the statue back.
The goal of the platform is to get citizens more involved in the public issues. The user can take a picture of an issue or a positive thing they notice and upload it on the platform to start a public debate.
Map the State!
The place where interested citizens and companies can interact with public institutions.
Map the State!
"Wisdom of the Earth" team
Prize: special delivery of sweets from Estonia :)
Smart Waste Identification and Cleaning Hub
A big shout-out goes out to all the participants who took part in this weekend. As it was said to finish the event: You are all winners!
Also a thank you to TechHub Bucharest (especially Ioana Sava and her team handling every situation that came up during the weekend) and Microsoft - without our great partners these events couldn't happen!