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EUDIS Hackathon First Edition 2024

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Written by: Camille Bensiam

Edited by: Dimitra Pateraki

Supervised by: Zoi Sofologi

The EUDIS Hackathon, which is part of the EU Defence Innovation Scheme (EUDIS), is an outreach event that brings together people from various backgrounds to solve challenges. It was simultaneously held in six countries in a hybrid format: Belgium, Poland, Italy, Greece, Lithuania, and Hungary. The theme of this first edition was “Digital in Defence” and it centered on three challenges:

  • improving situational awareness,
  • subsea infrastructure protection
  • and cybersecurity in defence

Students, academics, young professionals, military personnel, startups, and Small and Medium Enterprises members were invited to participate. Teams were formed by 2 to 5 members, who sometimes did not know each other before the kickoff.

Well-experienced mentors coached the team on Friday evening and Saturday. They originated from the EU Commission, military, navy commander, marketer, Women4Cyber, and the consultancy.

Within the Belgium edition, participants had the chance to be coached by the following mentors:

  • Major Koen Ceulemans, Land Innovation Manager, Belgian Defence
  • Experts from the Belgium Cyber Command, Belgian Defence
  • Cédric Genin, ADS Consulting Director, Sopra Steria Benelux
  • Florence Ferrando, Senior consultant, Forward Global & Producer of the Women Leaders Podcast
  • Johan Truyens, Defense Innovation Board Member, Belgian Defence
  • Pierre de Oliveira Béghin, COMOPSNAV, Naval Policy Staff Operations & Cooperations, Belgian Defense
  • Edouard Geoffrois, European Defence Fund SNE, European Commission DG DEFIS
  • Federica Nocerino, Communications and Marketing Manager, Linux Foundation Europe, Google Women Techmakers Brussels Lead, GDG Brussels Organizer

The event took place between 31st May and last until 2nd June 2024. Participants challenged their field knowledge, discussed it with experts, and connected with key professionals. They tried to answer defence needs by using the inside information provided by the mentors.

Participants had to present their proposals to two Juries and a crowded audience. The Jury of Honour was composed of the following:

  • Admiral Tanguy Botman, Commander of the Belgium Navy, Belgian Defence
  • Colonel Gunther Godfridis, Head of Cyber Development & Readiness of the Cyber Command, Belgian defence
  • Air Force Major General, MSc Eng Filip BORREMANS, Director-general of the Royal Higher Institute for Defence, Belgian Defence
  • Nathalie Guichard, Research, Technology and Innovation (RTI) Director, European Defence Agency (EDA)
  • Admiral Yves Dupont, Director-general of the Royal Higher Institute for Defence, Belgian Defence.

The thematic Jury assessed the feasibility of the proposition and selected the winning teams per challenge. They were composed of the following:

  • FKP Kurt Dewinter, COMOC, Belgian Defence
  • Thierry Segers, Project Manager, DG DEFIS, & former Cyber&C4I Officer of the Belgian Navy
  • Axel Legay, Professor, Cyberwall UCL
  • Thibaut Claes, General Manager, FNX Ventures.
  • Karim Azer-Nessim, Director of Cyber Security, Sopra Steria
  • LDV Benoit Tancredi, NPS C5ISR, Cyber, Belgian Defence.

Francois Arbault, the director for Defence Industry (DEFIS.A) from the European Commission, offers its hybrid welcoming words at the start of the hackathon. Gustaf Winroth, the deputy head of the Unit of Defence Technologies (DEFIS.A3) from the European Commission, offered the closing words of this Hackathon.

As a trainee Researcher at FINABEL, I participated in the EUDIS Hackathon within the Belgium edition, joined by Alexis Vandemoortele (Thales Cybersecurity engineer), Edouard Delangle (Thales AI Engineer), Egon Scheer (Deuse Software engineer), Romain Ledent (Deuse Growth Coordinator), and Thibault Chauvet (Deuse developer). Together, we chose to pursue the challenge of cybersecurity in defence and won the local prize for this category.

To summarise, this year, the EUDIS Hackathon was a unique networking opportunity that connected individuals passionate about the field. Hackathons are necessary to attract talent capable of proposing cutting-edge technologies and fostering defence competition. The team’s ideas have been out-of-the-box ideas and driven by creativity. This Hackathon and hackathons are open to everyone who wants to learn more about any field. Whether they have a team or not. It was a unique opportunity to network with like-minded people and be challenged by mentors with an opportunity to present our ideas to the leading experts in the defence field.

More information available on:
Upcoming Hackathon:
ULTRAHACK (n.d). Define Hackathon on 26.09-28.09, 2024; Location: Riihimäki, Finland