Creativity untethered: Uncovering the secrets of the Digital Metals AI Hackathon

By February 4, 2020December 22nd, 2020No Comments
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The hackathon

Hackathons are not often first when thinking of collaborative innovation formats. Hackathons with their quick pace – and long nights – problem-solving goal embody what innovation in its essence is – dynamic, collaborative and a lot of fun. 17 teams took part in the Digital Metals AI Hackathon in Vienna during 16-17th January 2020. Their goal was to solve 4 challenges presented to them by voestalpine and Primetals – both leading global companies.

International at its core

17 startups from 8 different countries across Europe participated in the hackathon. This was not surprising at voestalpine and Primetals are international companies with presence all over the world. With over more 150 teams shortlisted and more than 40 final applications, the hackathon selection was very competitive. Teams came from Austria, UK, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic, Poland, France and Bulgaria.

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4 use cases solving real problems

The 17 teams participating in the hackathon worked diligently all day long with the majority of the teams finishing well after midnight on the first day of the hackathon. A lot of this had to do with the 4 use cases (challenges) of the hackathon that were difficult and interesting at the same time: automatic requisitions and measuring steel pieces for voestalpine; digital twin visualization and information crawler for Primetals.

Voestalpine’s first use case was automatic requisitions use case that challenged startups to find new ways to automate ordering thousands of small parts annually in a factory: the winner was Flowlity from France that used AI and machine learning to come up with a very strong solution. Second use case involved measuring steel pieces using a mobile phone. Sounds simple but the accuracy demanded made this a difficult challenge and the winner Iviso from Austria already had a working prototype that met the requirements for accuracy by end of the hackathon.

“I was impressed to see, how well the first protoypes are working within only 1,5 days and how different these approaches are. The Hackathon is a good format to quickly reach an assessment of the subject.” Stefan Krammer, Global Operations, voestalpine High Perfomance Metals – Use Case Lead “Measuring Steel Pieces with a Mobile App”

Primetals’ first use case was visualising a digital twin of a steel plant and the winner LocLab from Germany wowed the jury with a working prototype of this created in less than 24 hours. Second use case was an information crawler and the winner was from Austria that used AI-based algorithms that demonstrated to the jury that it could provide relevant results given a requested query.

“Very professional organized Hackathon! The most important experience: The mood of the hackers has been extraordinary good throughout the whole two days. Thanks to the organizers for this!” – LocLab

Only 2.5 days to reach first prototypes

Most hackathons vary in duration but all of them have one thing in common: unrelenting energy. In the case of the Digital Metals AI Hackathon, 2.5 days was ideal: a remote 1/2 day kickoff several days before the hackathon took place where teams were provided an overview of the uses cases; the actual hackathon consisted of 2 days on-site event where teams worked on the use cases in intense working sessions. This drive resulted in first prototypes being presented by the end of the hackathon in front of the jury.


4 teams won the top prize in the hackathon (one for each use case). The remaining teams had a lot of fun and feedback from leading industry experts. The hackathon’s best asset was to create an atmosphere for open discussion and exchange of ideas between the organisers – voestalpine and Primetals and participating startups. Furthermore, for voestalpine and Primetals, the hackathon itself proved a very good format to untether creativity from the outside to solve specific challenges while having a lot of fun along the way.

“One of the best organised hackathon I’ve been at, and I’ve been to many as both participant and/or sponsor.” – Imagga

“The perfect hackathon experience!” – Giant Lazer

“The AI metals hackathon was a great opportunity to validate the fit of our product for the metals industry and to compare our proposition with other product and services.” – We Connect Data

“Best event I ever participate in with others startups!!” – Norlean

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Big thanks to our amazing Hackathon team. You’re kick-ass!

No more words needed.