AgriTechHack Bulgaria

This section breaks down the life-cycle of the AgriTechHack following the steps described in the main guide.

Problem

Bulgaria has a highly qualified tech sector, in addition to its agriculture, but where do these two collide? This hackathon provides a proof of concept opportunity to test this, the first event of its kind in the country.


The hackathon was hosted in order to mobilise the local tech communities, entrepreneurs, startups and encourage their involvement in to the Agri-Food sector. This will create bridges between the agri and tech communities and lower the trust thresholds farmers have towards technology and its vendors. The hackathon was also meant to engage to young farmers into the sector and appeal them with novel technological advances in the field.

Exploration

One of the most relevant decisions to point out during the exploration phase, is that the organizers of this event opted for having general challenges as opposed to specific, owned by challengers. This is different as what we as FarmHack tend to do now, but the decision was made as this was the first time an event like this was hosted and they placed priority in broad appeal. Keeping the challenges general, allowed any participants to join and to bring their own ideas and work on them as a hack sprint. 


The hackathon explored four challenges:

  • Beekeeping Technologies: on the pursuit of innovative BeeTechnologies that can counter the continued bee decline hitting up to 85% in some parts of Bulgaria. 

  • IOT automation: addressing the farmers ‘lack of oversight’ of IOT data, getting them to a comprehensive overview of field tasks (fertilization, irrigation, sowing, harvesting) data.

  • Machine Data: meant to increase the ease of use and the interchangeability of tractor data from the standard display, the GPS and the ISOblue. 

  • AI & Robotics: models, simulations for optimizations or predictions of risks and opportunities in agriculture such as improvements in weeding technologies or weather pattern detection.

Identification

The AgriTechHack started as an initiative by Nik Academy, a precision agriculture training center, supported by the Dutch Embassy. The dots were soon connected and the event was then embedded in a wider framework and ecosystem, the Smart Agri Hubs (SAH) Work Package 2 which FarmHack is part of. SAH provided 10,000 Euros worth of prize money as the WP2 intends to expand the agri-tech innovation network with the ideas / people sourced from the hackathon. 


This structural link also allowed and the local Digital Innovation Hub AgroHub.BG to partake in this initiative. This partner became key in getting people both hackers, jury and mentors to the hackathon (see next section) and to place the event in a national scale of importance. Overall, the hackathon was a showcase of a pan European collaboration.

Mobilization

Given that this hackathon organization was a joint effort, our Bulgarian partners multiplied the mobilization effort. Amongst the key pieces we mobilized:


  • Pollenity, a prominent Bulgaria Tech entrepreneurship making smart bee technologies. 

  • OriginTrail (Ziga Drev), a Slovenian company that focuses on provenance and blockchain technologies, they have some agri-based use cases.

  • Ai Lab (Bobby Bahov), a Dutch based company with a Bulgarian co-founder, especially recognized for having the biggest AI community and meet-ups in Den Haag.

  • Svetlin Nakov, co-founder SoftUni, the leading digital education platform for IT and software engineering.

  • Auke Sytsema and Roel Postema, co founders of TrekkerData a dutch SME, focusing on extracting farmer-centric solutions with  machine data.


AgroHub Bulgaria and Nik academy then proceeded to mobilize all the participants (+60) that attended a rural town in Bulgaria, Izgrev, only for the hackathon. They were present in several press releases and TV programs, social media campaigns. FarmHack did most of the work when arranging the pieces within the Smart AgriHubs Ecosystem. Read more details on the who is who here.

 

Prototyping

Please read a recap of the event in the SAH webpage. Also the perspective from one of the mentors that joined the event. Below a summary of the winners: 


  • Team Source (1st Place Winner): The Brestnichki  brothers created a food chain traceability tool to get food product information via a QR code mobile app scan. 

  • Team Technologica (2nd Place Winner): 17 software developers and engineers build an open source tool to get data and analitical service from tractors and their use.

  • Team BeVine (3rd Place Winner and WUR AgriTechHack): A mobile application to detect health of grape vines via AI image recognition tools and disease databases.

  • Team The Bees (Present to Ministry of Agriculture): An analytics and warning service working with beehive and meteostation data, with the purpose of detecting anomalies in beehives.

 

Partnerships

The first place winner won BGN 15,000, and the second Place Winner BGN 5,000. This cash prize is intended for teams to continue developing their prototypes. The third place winner in addition to the BGN 2,000 also flew all the way to the Netherlands to work in a second hack sprint in the WUR Life Sciences Farm Hack. Here, the winner was eligible to win an additional € 10,000. Finally The Bees will be able to present their idea to the  Ministry of Agriculture.


As mentioned earlier Work Package 2 was a financial backer to the Agri Tech Hack with the prize money allocation. Post hackathon, part of the follow-up responsibility lies in the local digital innovation hub, AgroHUb. BG where they will guide hack teams to work towards the open calls to form new Digital Innovation Hubs or new Flagship Innovation Experiments.

More information

 

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