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Perth innovators contribute to addressing Covid-19 issues in APAC’s largest hackathon

A big congratulations to the Australian Computer Society (ACS), together with AustCyber and dozens of Australian organisations who last week ran a two-day #flattenthecurvehack focused on solving issues associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, attracting over 2300 participants and 300 mentors.

Of the 2300 participants, 80 per cent were from Australia, 5 per cent from India, 3 per cent from the United States, two per cent from China, and the rest from 10 more countries.

The hackers were tasked with solving five major challenges involving:

  • Education

  • Mental health and wellbeing

  • The future of work

  • Locating vulnerable people and protecting them from COVID-19 infection, and;

  • Helping the health system operate more effectively and get the resources it needs.

“Modern technology allows our most creative minds to remain focused on solving society’s greatest problems even during lockdown,’’ ACS Chief Executive Andrew Johnson said. "We’re looking to emerge stronger from the current difficult situation caused by the coronavirus, driven by the best that Australian innovation has to offer.”

We spoke to our own Perth Biodesign for Digital Health Course Director, Eldin Rostom, who joined the hackathon as one of 15 lead mentors and 300 team mentors.

“It was a fantastic event, and ran in a very organic way”, says Eldin.

“One of the key takeaways for me was that diversity of skills, gender, age and culture is essential for innovation and played a key role in both the participants’ and mentors’ team dynamics. Everyone always had different perspectives, so there were no stagnant conversations and always a possibility to move forward, which was very exciting.”

We also got the thoughts of Dr Stephen Hicks, a current participant of the 2020 Perth Biodesign for Digital Health course who mentored one of the Hackathon teams over the weekend:

“I was really pleased to be able to contribute to this great initiative – particularly as it gave me the opportunity to pay forward what I had learnt of the Biodesign approach – for example, I found both a focused Need Statement and how to fit into a Value Chain were crucial in guiding the team of participants.” said Dr Hicks.

Mechanical engineer Jacob Petersen, who recently graduated from the 2019 Perth Biodesign for Medtech course, took part in the Hackathon, matched in the same team with 2018 Biodesign graduate, Selam Ahderom.

The group formed team Healthcare Hackteam and pitched a way to predict rapid deterioration of COVID patients in remote hospital settings to improve patient outcomes through early intervention. The team received $2000 in prize money and plans to continue working on their idea beyond the event.

“This is an amazing example of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic we have been seeing across Western Australia, and Australia more broadly. So many people have stepped forward with innovative ideas to address a whole range of problems – it has been truly inspiring” says Kevin Pfleger, Director Biomedical Innovation at The University of Western Australia and the MTPConnect WA Life Sciences Innovation Hub. “Largely as a result of the exceptional community adherence to social distancing, it looks like we are getting through the acute phase of this crisis better than most around the world, although we are not there just yet. The next phase will be to harness the incredible innovation capacity and capability that has been demonstrated to date in order to drive recovery – we have strong grounds for optimism from what I see.”


Go here to find out more about the results of the #flattenthecurvehack.

Click here to find out more about Perth Biodesign for Digital Health and the WA Digital Health Accelerator.

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