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North Atlantic youth hackathon launched

Published: 01/03/2021

Young people aged 18-35 in Scotland are invited to take part in a free 48 hour virtual ‘hackathon’, alongside peers from other parts of the North Atlantic region.

Young people aged 18-35 in Scotland are invited to take part in a free 48 hour virtual ‘hackathon’,

‘Think Rural, Think Digital, Think Ahead!’ will be held over 19-21 March and aims to engage young people from across Scotland, Coastal Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Faroe Islands, Maine and Ontario to develop joint solutions to shared challenges.

The Scottish Government is working with the Nordic Council of Ministers and the State of Maine to support Highlands and Island Enterprise (HIE) and the Nordic Atlantic Cooperation (NORA) to deliver the international competition on rural sustainability. The Cooperation Council of Ontario is also among the organising partners.

Those from a variety of backgrounds such as coding, design, marketing, health and social care or tourism and hospitality are all encouraged to sign-up. They will form international teams to find innovative solutions that can inform and promote a sustainable recovery and development in the North Atlantic region.

The challenge will identify digital solutions that ease the provision of essential healthcare services and will promote a sustainable recovery for the tourism industry. The young participants will also be supported with a roadmap to entrepreneurship.

Participation is free and international teams will be made up of four or five people with different backgrounds and skillsets who will come together to design, test and bring to life innovative ideas.

Cash prizes and business development opportunities will be awarded to successful teams under each of the two themes – Digital Health and Rural Tourism Recovery.

A North Atlantic Accelerator programme is also being developed as a post-event collaboration between the development agencies in each region to offer further support to the winning and other teams.

Jenny Gilruth, Minister for Europe, said: “Scotland shares many challenges with its neighbours in the North Atlantic region, with common areas of interest including the issues around rural life and low populations.

“By working together and pooling our expertise, we can develop joint solutions and improve the wellbeing of our communities.

“Young people can bring a crucial contribution to these discussions and help us build a more sustainable future for all. The Scottish Government is pleased to join Nordic, American and Canadian partners in supporting this event.”

Kateryna McKinnon, European manager at HIE, said: “This is a great opportunity to generate ideas and prototype solutions, which could be developed into commercial products, and crucially help on our road to recovery from the pandemic. It is great to work again with NORA, SG and also the North American partners on the 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.”

Paula Lehtomäki, Secretary General, Nordic Council of Ministers, said: “The Nordic Council of Ministers is very pleased to contribute to this hackathon. Scotland, Maine and Eastern Canada are important neighbors and partners for the Nordic region, and this event focusing on digital health and tourism in rural areas is a good opportunity to create closer and stronger ties, both on a political and personal level. I look forward to seeing the results and the great ideas that come out of this weekend.”

Chairman of NORA, Jákup Mørkøre, said: “NORA is pleased to organize another hackathon in collaboration with the Scottish Government and HIE. It is extra pleasant that we have this time crossed the Atlantic and expanded the initiative to include Maine and Ontario. For NORA as an alliance-building organisation, we look forward to seeing North Atlantic youth develop and implement ideas together.”

This year’s event follows on from last year’s successful hackathon in May, which saw a high take-up from five countries. Twenty-nine people took part across Scotland and 16 of those were from the Highlands and Islands. The winning idea was developed by a team of two people from Evanton who developed a shopping app.  

The hackathon will start on Friday 19 March 1800 and finish on Sunday 21 March 1800.

For more information and to sign up, visit

Deadline for signing-up is 15 March.

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