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Published: 01 October 2020

PetHack 2020 – Innovation at its best

This summer, Surrey Business School conducted its first ever Pet Hackathon in collaboration with the Surrey Vet School. The aim of PetHack 2020 was to bring together innovators from around the world to work with digital technologies and design real projects to monitor, diagnose and control Covid-19’s impact on the animal health community and industry.

Image of dog with ball

The three-day virtual event, led by Dr Carla Bonina, was a joint initiative of the Surrey Centre of Digital Economy (CoDE) at Surrey Business School and The Veterinary Health Innovation Engine (vHive) at Surrey Vet School, supported by the ESRC University of Surrey Impact Acceleration Account

The hackathon was an excellent opportunity for participants to gain exposure developing open data projects, work with highly qualified mentors, and improve the lives of pets and their owners affected by Covid-19.

The winners were selected by a panel of judges from the University of Surrey and Zoetis. Projects included:

  • A telemedicine solution for vet professionals to continue to see patients withincommunities of varied socio-economic backgrounds
  • A global animal disease dashboard
  • An app to create a community of dog walkers in urban areas, with special benefits in times of Covid-19
  • A digital solution for information exchange across an ecosystem of veterinary health providers
  • A digital cat litter box solution that monitors urine volumes to help identifying health anomalies in domestic cats.

First prize went to ‘Retriever’, a solution that looked at how veterinary professionals can continue to see patients during the current pandemic and explored the effects of closing veterinary practices on local communities.

"There has never been a more pressing time to take a step back and take into account the fact that animal health has a direct impact on human health. It is my hope that this hackathon has brought awareness to animal health communities and the industry at large - in relation to COVID-19 and displays the need for multiple holistic approaches when dealing with the complex ecology of our health as a society."

Travis Street, vHive & PetHack 2020 Co-Organiser

With thanks to partner organisations Open Data Soft, Zoetis, the University of Exeter, Virtual Recall and Medical Detection Dogs.

Find out more about the winning submissions and PetHack 2020 here, and view the PetHack infographic here.

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