MERIThON 2024 marks the first milestone in innovation and collaboration with industry

On April 27, the inaugural edition of MERIThON, an international ideathon organised by the MERIT project under the Digital Europe Programme, took place simultaneously in Vilnius, Lithuania, and Manresa, Spain.

Why a MERIThON?

The MERIThON was designed to foster the creation of solutions that address the diverse needs of industries, society, and individuals alike. The objectives of this first edition were to: 

  • Raise awareness of the MERIT program.
  • Promote MERIT study programs and short-term courses for undergraduates and other active, technology-oriented individuals. 
  • Establish new connections with SMEs and institutions, including them into the study programs and MERIT project activities. 
  • Gather ideas for the study program’s master thesis that can be relevant and interesting for students.
MERIThON in Manresa (UPC – EPSEM)

The event marked a significant achievement in the school’s commitment to innovation and collaboration with industry. A total of 22 participants, forming 5 teams, faced the 25 challenges proposed by leading Catalan and international companies. The participants included UPC graduates, current undergraduate students, and professionals interested in digital skills.

Representatives from companies such as ASOINDEL, F2R, OnLaser, and Dribia attended the event, providing mentorship and networking opportunities. Each team selected a different challenge, leading to a variety of approaches and innovative solutions throughout the competition.

The winning team, comprised of two UPC Manresa graduates, Hafid and Alex, received a €300 prize from the Col·legi d’Enginyers Catalunya Central. They addressed challenge number 6, which involved detecting at-risk students. Their proposal was to utilize existing Moodle data to generate a pseudo-history using AI, and to compare these patterns with those of at-risk and not-at-risk students for classification. They planned to present the risk level of a student as a colour to the teacher: red, yellow, or green, emphasizing privacy and minimal intrusiveness in their method.

MERIThON in Vilnius (VILNIUS TECH)

In Vilnius, the participants were primarily undergraduates, including some master’s degree graduates, all fitting into the MERIT target groups for study programs and short-term courses. Thirteen participants engaged in idea generation, while the event’s registration reached 30 participants. Additionally, three general society members joined in the afternoon, supporting the participants and gathering ideas for their careers.

The event also featured representatives from four SMEs and organisations, including Exacaster, NOD Baltic, Everwest, Bonsaisodai.lt, and SSMTP, along with three MERIT higher education institutions and research centers: VILNIUS TECH, UPC, and FBK, attending both on-site and online.

The Vilnius MERIThON fostered new connections, with some students inquiring about planned master studies and others considering PhD studies under VILNIUS TECH supervision. There was significant interest in advancing collaboration with Everwest and NOD Baltic concerning ADS promotion and upskilling, as well as in continuing the ideas generated as research projects for bachelor’s and master’s theses. Discussions with EDIHs also invited participants to join the accelerator program and motivated them to develop their ideas further.

The number of challenges proposed (25) indicates robust third-party involvement and the trust of organisations in our ideas and their willingness to contribute.

See all the winners of the MERIThON in Vilnius here.

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