04 May 2015

InnoApps Hackathon 2014: Finalists’ impressions

We are happy to bring you a follow up series on the InnoApps finalists! In the coming articles we will report on what they have been up to since the competition. What progress has been made on the development of their apps?  What are their tips for future InnoApps participants?

We start the series with insights into the ideas of the InnoAppers after the Award Ceremony. What were their main impressions?

InnoApps Hackathon Competition 2014

The culmination of the second round of the InnoApps competition – InnoApps Hackathon Final – was held on 4 February 2015 at the Bibliotheque Solvay, Brussels, where three of the best apps for Smart Cities were selected. This competition focused on the Smart Cities concept, contributing to sustainable development, social cohesion and environmental responsibility in cities across the globe, be it in China, Europe or elsewhere.

Impressions

Jiancheng Li from the AudioCity app team pointed out that the InnoApps Hackathon is the competition to learn and realise your dreams: “InnoApps  is a place for pitching ideas and making them come true. You can get a great deal of useful advice and help at InnoApps. While realizing your dream, you learn a lot and gain a lot.” His colleague, Andrei Diaconu, added that the competition offered many great opportunities to build on prior knowledge and encouraged learning in exchange for hard work.

The winners of the InnoApps Hackathon Competition 2014 and €20 000 were Dawid Cieslak from Poland and Yanzhong Li from China for their smart networking app Cocoffee, facilitating communications and networking between participants at events. The second prize went to Irman Abdic for his app Birdly, which  allows users to identify a bird by its song. Third place was proudly taken by Li Jiancheng from China and Andrei-Tudor Diaconu from Romania who collected €5 000 for their AudioCity app, allowing museums to make their audio guides available in one single app. In addition to the financial rewards, all winning teams received one-to-one mentoring on the commercialisation of their apps

Organised by the leading global ICT company Huawei and non-profit organisation European Young Innovators Forum (EYIF), the InnoApps Hackathon is the place to showcase participants potential, learn, network and code. By offering long-term mentoring support, the InnoApps is more than just another app competition.

The participants praised the assistance they received from the EYIF, Huawei and Pinch. Levente Slajchó who was in the team creating the Cobble app, highlighted that all 6 teams got excellent help and the opportunity to test their app prototype on the Huawei phones was really useful. Taking a long-term perspective, Llogari Casas from GreenPass is convinced that the support he received from organisers will advance his future career: “I really appreciated all the help and feedback we were given during  these days. I am sure it is going to be so useful for my professional career in the future.”

With the slogan “think opportunities, think communities, think networks” the InnoApps Hackathon provided participants with the opportunity to create their own part of future fully interconnected Smart Cities. In this regard, InnoApps is a practical example of efforts to make cities smarter by encouraging youth to create apps that treat cities as fluid knowledge ecosystems, where the quality of community life, infrastructure and governance is improved, business succeeds and innovation flourishes.

Dawid Cieślak from the winning team Cocoffee was excited by the judges’ decision: “That was a great moment and represented achieving the most important goal of participating in this competition – convincing people of our idea. Now we know there are people waiting for improvements in this area, who will place trust in us. Winning this competition is also a responsibility. We received support, feedback and now we have to show great application.” His teammate Yanzhong Li was also happy in being able to convince jury with their pitch: “I’ve learned how to make a better pitch and eventually convince investors. I believe good ideas are worth sharing, and pitching is an indispensable part of development. I have to tell others and convince them it’s a great idea. Only through this can we really make something happen.”

The fast-growing InnoApps contest gave young developers a unique chance, empowering them to bring their ideas to the market. As the winners of this competition highlighted, “anyone with a great idea should apply to the contest and do their best to succeed.” Huawei, EYIF and Pinch provided guidance on the key points startups should focus when adapting their application to different markets, as well as learning the most important considerations for the end-consumer, how to choose the right business model and how to present to investors.

At the end of the competition, all the teams praised not only the quality of collaboration with EYIF, Huawei and Pinch but also the opportunity to meet new friends from a different cultural environment, which was an enriching experience and improved their mobile applications, whilst bringing different perspectives and backgrounds together. Irman Abdić from Birdly said, “EYIF: Organization and professionalism on a very high level. Impressed with many details, great and small. I would describe you as young and ambitious team, promoting innovation and collaboration globally. Huawei: Especially grateful for having so many representatives from Huawei, we all had a feeling that they really care. Pinch: They were versatile and shared some startup atmosphere with us… Personally, I did benefit a lot from their feedback.”

Besides the professional experience, the opportunity to work in multicultural teams and access to mentoring by the most experienced experts, the participants as well as the InnoApps Hackathon partners had a challenging yet exciting time developing new startup ideas and building bridges for future fruitful cooperation. As Dawid from Cocoffee pointed out, in the end it is self-confidence that matters: “You’ll get people’s support when you show them how strongly you believe in the success of your project. You have to be proud of your product and show this to others. When you truly believe in it, so will your clients and investors!”