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Pan-European Hackathon: Engineers and developers join forces in bid to find COVID-19 solutions

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Belgium Europe Virus Outbreak   -   Copyright  Virginia Mayo/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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An entrepreneur from Lithuania is developing an app to connect volunteers with elderly people in need during coronavirus lockdown.

Andrius Milinavičius says many organisations have databases of who is in need and a separate one of volunteers.

The idea behind the app is to connect the dots.

"We connect to both of the databases and we visualise all the needs in the map," he said. "You open an app and you see a nearby need from an elderly or senior citizen, maybe they need groceries, maybe they ask to collect a package or a very important need they need: medicines!"

High tech solutions like this often require more minds to succeed. That is why Milinavičius will take part in the EU versus the virus hackathon, which takes place from 24-26 April.

The European Commission is teaming up with tech companies and hackers to find solutions and funding to solve the problems of the pandemic.

Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth says that they don't just want good ideas, but they want creators to make their ideas come to life.

"We are looking at how to produce ventilators, to have them quickly, and in large quantities and that they can be accessible to all," said Gabriel. "That’s the type of ideas we are looking for."

This time engineers, developers, designers won't be able to get together in real life but it won't stop them from working round-the-clock from their homes.

"With very little sleep or no sleep, eating a little in between but really focusing on work, and during hackathons, we really do a lot of work, massive amounts of work," said Sasa Popovic, co-founder of Vega IT, a Serbian start-up.

Hackathons usually have cash prizes or promises of investment. In this case, there will be follow-up support from a new European Innovation Council (EIC) COVID platform to those with the best ideas.

"(We) are usually very motivated, especially when it is to help, for a cause like this one," said Popovic.