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Winners announced in the North Atlantic Corona Challenge

Published: 04/06/2020

Four teams have been awarded prizes in the North Atlantic Corona Challenge that brought together 64 participants virtually last weekend (29-31 May).

Rachel Bews, winner of North Atlantic Corona Challenge

The 48-hour challenge was aimed at 18-30-year olds from the north Atlantic region (Greenland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Coastal Norway and Scotland).

Their task was to come up with ideas and develop solutions to save communities, save businesses and save lives during and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has been working with NORA to extend the initiative to the region. The event had a high take-up from all five countries and 17 teams were created.

Twenty-nine people took part from across Scotland with 16 from the Highlands and Islands. Each team was allocated a mentor to coach and guide ideas development throughout the weekend.

The winning idea was developed by a team of two people from the Highlands and Islands – husband and wife Samuel Warnock and Rachel Bews. The remote shopping app, called ‘Shop With Me’ provides a solution for small rural retail businesses to continue operating during the pandemic.

Rachael from Evanton said:

“I have loved participating in the North Atlantic Corona Challenge. It has been such a rewarding experience for us to really focus on a current problem in such a short space of time and develop innovative solutions. Our mentor has been fantastic and the whole organisation has been faultless. We would love to participate in any future 'hackathons', and we are so thrilled to have won. We are really excited to explore applying our project in reality.”

The runner-up prize was won by a transnational team from Scotland and Iceland, which included two participants from the Highlands and Islands. Their idea was an app called ‘ParentEd’, which is a new and original solution to support parents with online education for their children. 

The third prize was claimed by an Icelandic team. Their project, called ‘DIMAI’ – a web-based system, which is a medical image diagnostic that uses artificial intelligence. The top three winners were awarded cash prizes of £1,200, £2,400 and £3,600.

The prize of entrepreneurship support from HIE was awarded to a Scottish-Faroese team for their project, called ‘Tour’st’, which is a platform aimed at connecting tour guides to their customers during the pandemic while also creating scope for future face-to-face clientele.

HIE’s innovation team will provide support to develop this idea further to realise its commercial potential.

Kateryna McKinnon, European manager at HIE, said: “We were really pleased that such a high number of creative young people took part in this online event. All the teams delivered very exciting innovations, which address our region’s specific preconditions. This was a fantastic opportunity to generate great ideas and prototype solutions which could be developed into commercial products, but also help ‘save lives’. It was great to work with NORA on this initiative and connect our young people from Scotland with like-minded young people in other parts of the north Atlantic, to bounce ideas and exchange experiences. I hope the success of this event would mean more collaborative initiatives between NORA and Scotland to follow.”

Øystein Andresen, Advisor from NORA, said: “The North Atlantic Corona Challenge was a great way for NORA to bring forth the best of our youth. The sparsely populated areas in the north Atlantic are not exempt from the crisis, even though the number of infected have been relatively low. We wanted to inspire the young generation to work together to combat the pandemic and we were blown away with their amazing ideas.”

Photo credit: Sarah Morgan McDowell 

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