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X-Industry Hackathon in Riga, 2019

The Latvian IT Cluster’s corporate hackathon held at the SEB Innovation Centre on November 5 and 6 brought together food and packaging producers from Latvia, Lithuania, Spain and Poland as well as IT firms from several countries to solve some intriguing challenges.

The diversity of the challenges revealed the high level of readiness of IT specialists from Latvia and other countries in adapting to market needs and creating innovative solutions. Because food and packaging producers often deal with large volumes of goods or services, smart solutions are a great way to let technology perform tasks which are currently done manually.

The winner of this year’s International Food and Packaging Hackathon was the Latvian artificial intelligence developer APPLY, which took on a complex challenge from the Spanish food producer Grupo Empresarial La Caña. The winning team will head to the exhibition “Transfiere 2020” in February 2020, where science and technology leaders from throughout Europe will meet for the ninth time.

Vismands Menjoks, APPLY’s head of sales and development, commented that, “The challenge from Grupo Empresarial La Caña was very similar to problems we have solved before. The task was to perform quality control for 400 cherry tomatoes a second, classifying each unit by colour, size and form, correlating with the intensity of flavour of the fruit. Essentially monitoring what gets delivered to end clients such as TESCO, MAXIMA and Lidl, because each quality group has a different sale price and delivery criteria. The information obtained can be used to improve procurement procedures and pricing policies as well as for marketing, by demonstrating a serious approach to quality indicators for potential new partners.”

During the hackathon, various lectures and masterclasses were held in which companies from both sides were encouraged to think outside the box and engage in useful business growth training. Eight challenges from a number of European countries including Latvia were submitted, each requiring innovative solutions to improve the firm’s competitiveness through digitalization.

Ira Raciņa, chief organizer of the International Food and Packaging Hackathon (Latvian IT Cluster), says: “The global market is diverse and changing, so it is vital that IT professionals from Latvia and other countries are able to monitor and react to specific requirements. Currently the members of the Latvian IT Cluster are very keen to explore new markets, and international and intersectoral corporate hackathons are a great way to get to know the needs and business cultures of other countries and meet potential new partners.”

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