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Digitalisation workshops – a way how effectively solve industry business problems

The very first digitalisation workshop for the food industry or X-industry hackathon, taking place from March 19th-April 16th, has just finished bringing food and IT companies together. Alongside the traditional hackathon the mini X-industry hackathon concept was introduced helping food companies learn more about existing digital solutions and gain insights in how these solutions can upgrade their business. As the participants mention – the hackathon is a great way how effectively solve the industry business challenges.

During the workshop different industry challenges were put into the foreground, including the administration of production documentation, automatisation of quality control in the production lines, identification of sales points and planning of production delivery, as well as the grain tank balance monitoring.

The challenges were shared by Cannelle Bakery, SFT Seafood, Milzu!, Food Union and Balticovo, meanwhile the challenges were solved by IT companies Burti, Gstream, Dots. and MBIT.

Bruno Ansons, the board member at Cannelle Bakery, notes: “X-industry hackathon was a catalyst for us to look at a particular business problem from a different viewpoint and a chance to talk to IT industry professionals for them to solve it as the current solution we use is complicated and time-consuming. Though we did not find a ready-made solution in the market, we are currently working on a custom made solution specifically designed for us. This was a very interesting and valuable experience.”

Among the participants in the mini X-industry hackathon were the food companies Taste CAPS!, Fermentum, Latvijas ķiploks and Oscars Fish. IT companies Lux Technology, Datakom, Burti and Positive Company worked alongside them and shared their expertise to help the food companies understand their business processes better.

Ilze Garanča, the owner of Taste CAPS!, reveals: “When I was asked to participate in the hackathon, my first thought was – our company was not that big to implement new IT solutions and we could manage with the solutions the market already offered. But we like to take part in new projects, so we agreed to participate, and – as it happens – stepping into unknown gave a positive result. We have identified the challenges where IT can help us and now we will look into them and talk to IT professionals how we can put our plan into action.”

The host of the workshops, Latvian IT Cluster, recognizes that one of the common problems in the cross-industry collaboration is communication on all levels. Mārtiņš Bērziņš, the CEO of MBIT, remarks: “As an IT company we are always looking for clients and partners, but the reality shows that it is difficult to speak to companies, find all the possible solutions out there and maintain a mutual motivation during the collaboration process. The hackathon concept works with all these things – the [food] companies have problems, we can solve them and we have the support from the hosts to make sure there is enough motivation in the participants. We have learnt to communicate better, present ourselves, find the solutions and discuss about them, understanding what really matters to solve the challenge effectively. I am certain this is the way how we should work in the future.”

The central focus of the X-industry hackathon is cross-industry collaboration, and its format is simple – the industry company presents its business problem, and the IT companies, based on their skills and interests, look for the solutions. While collaborating, new digital products are made and the growth of the companies is fostered. The pilot project of the hackathon took place in the spring of 2018.

X-industry hackathon is organised under project DIGICLUSTERS that was funded by the European Union’s COSME Programme. DIGICLUSTERS is a novel European Strategic Cluster Partnership for smart specialization investments and industrial modernisation of agrofood & packaging sectors towards Industry 4.0 and digital transformation through pioneer concept of Cluster-Facilitated X-Industry Hackathons. More information about project here.

* The content of this article represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility; it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission and/or the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission and the Agency do not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.

** Photo: Klaids Lielbiksis

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