PetHack in times of Covid-19 – The companion animal open data hackathon
In July 2020 the IAA funded a £2000 ‘rapid response’ project, run by Dr Carla Bonina, which looked at Covid-19’s impact on the animal health community and industry. Pethack was a 100% virtual challenge for pet professionals, data enthusiasts, students, entrepreneurs and more, collaborating on projects that focused on addressing solutions for the pandemic’s impacts on companion animals.
The aim was to bring innovators around the world to join through dedicated digital channels to work with relevant open datasets and digital technologies to foster innovative solutions in the field. IAA funding allowed the award of three financial incentive prizes. The first and the third prize winners were all Post Graduate students.
51 people from 11 different countries came together and delivered 5 innovative proposals. 11 mentors and 3 judges later, the following awards were given:
- First - ‘Retriever’ – a solution that looked at how veterinary professionals can continue to see patients during the current pandemic and explored the effects of closing vet practices on local communities
- Second ‘TRAX’ – a global animal disease dashboard to monitor outbreaks of illnesses and their intersection with humanity.
- Runners Up – ‘Pet Lighthouse’, an app to take control of your pet’s health records and find activities near you and ‘Cats Japan’, a digital cat litter box solution that monitors urine volumes to help identifying health anomalies in domestic cats.
Dr Carla Bonina
Associate Professor (Reader) in Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Carla Bonina is Associate Professor (Reader) in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Surrey Business School. Her research interests lie in the intersection of technology innovation, entrepreneurship and policy with a focus on sustainable development. Her current projects revolve around digital platforms, digital social innovation and AI for international. She provides strategic advice on digital transformation, open data and sustainability of the digital economy to governments, international organisations and donors, such as Avinas Americas, the OECD, the IDRC and the World Bank among others. She is considered a Latin American expert.
Her research has been funded by prestigious bodies, including the European Union's Horizon 2020, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
She's been awarded Mid-Career Researcher of the Year at Surrey Business School in 2021, and received the Impact Award prize in 2020 for outstanding contributions to impact in her research on digital government transformation in Latin America.
Carla is founding member of the Surrey Center of Digital Economy and Principal Researcher at the Latin American Initiative of Open data (ILDA). She is Fellow of the Surrey Institute for People Centred AI, member of the Center for Social Innovation Management and the Surrey Law and Technology Hub. She is also member of Sandbox, a global network of young entrepreneurs, and shares a passion for social entrepreneurship.
Carla holds a PhD in Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in the UK, an MSc in Public Administration and Public Policy from CIDE in Mexico City, and a BA in Economics from the University of Buenos Aires.
ESRC involvement in this project helped to build connections with multiple partners.
The project allowed for ecosystem generation - bringing together people from the pet industry to work with data scientists, which is not normally an easy task!
The funding of prizes was impactful because all of the winners had never taken part in a hackathon before and were all PhD students or postdocs. A great step on the ladder towards success with their research and business/public engagement.
The IAA project has become a valuable case study for DIHAH - the Data Innovation Hub for Animal Health - which is an information and communications technology environment based at The University of Surrey. Its mission is to make data sharing a smooth process, so that an animal health value network can be developed.
PetHack2021 is being planned as a result of this first project in 2020.