The projects and Startups that were distinguished in the EYDAP Innovation Challenge
Startuppers have created mechanisms for identifying potential consumption patterns, prediction models and detecting deviant behavior
Four companies were awarded at the EYDAP Innovation Challenge, the first innovation competition in the HCAP Incentivized competition series. The hackathon was organized by EYDAP (Athens Water Supply and Sewerage Company), attracting great interest from private sector companies, Startups and groups of researchers or scientists.
The participants submitted their proposals, which they converted from ideas to real solutions with the help of a mentorship program, after they went through an evaluation for their purpose, that is to predict household water consumption and to identify faulty meters in the network.
Startupper was there and had the opportunity to talk with both the winners and the Deputy Minister of Research and Technology, Christos Dimas, who answered a question about the opening of public sector enterprises such as EYDAP in the field of research and innovation of the Greek Startup ecosystem:”It is an excellent step taken by EYDAP, absolutely necessary, and I hope that many more companies of the wider public sector will follow EYDAP. Let me remind you that a month ago the Development Bank had the tender, Elevate Greece was born from a Startup which helped the Greek state and the Ministry of Development to be created. Therefore, partnerships between the public sector and the novel Startup ecosystem are absolutely necessary and mutually beneficial for all.”
He also commented on whether he is optimistic that the emerging Greek Startup ecosystem will be able to meet the challenges of the time and especially whether it will be able to strengthen the public sector’s effort for modernization and digital transformation as follows: : “I start with the second part of the question. I consider it absolutely essential that both Startups and the Greek state cooperate much more to find solutions to practical issues faced by the Greek state. And yes I am very optimistic because I believe in both the talent of Greek entrepreneurs and scientists.I think that day by day the conditions of not only entrepreneurship, but also the conditions for innovation for the country are improving. We already have many important agreements. So I agree that very important deals are coming from the innovation ecosystem.”
On his part, EYDAP’s CEO, Haris Sachinis, added about how important this initiative is and how it can directly or indirectly affect the consumer: “Anything that has to do with the development of EYDAP, especially with innovative solutions, such as those awarded today, is to the benefit of society, our customers and the consumer, of the environment and in terms of water saving, but also in terms of energy saving in the water cycle, where we are trying to go to zero carbon footprint and governance so that we become better every day for the benefit of the consumer.”
He also took a position on the rationale with which EYDAP organized the innovation competition and what were its objectives when it took this decision:”The management of EYDAP believes that innovation is important not only for a public company but also for the whole ecosystem, which we serve for the consumer and because we want to support Startups, new companies that bring innovation to Greece, but also to give the opportunity if we can give the opportunities to go to the international environment, we wanted to do this competition, which both helps EYDAP, but also helps all those people who will unite the capabilities they have, which are important not only for companies like ours, but also for the whole of Greece.”
As for the results of the competition and whether they are satisfied with the cooperation achieved with teams and businesses from the Greek ecosystem, he commented: “We are very satisfied with the results, because they are real results, which can be applied for the benefit of the company and consumers.”
Concluding the exclusive statements he gave to Startupper and given that EYDAP enters very strongly into digital innovation, he clarified the organization’s plans for the future, saying: “We have also changed the organizational chart to have the appropriate human infrastructure in digital matters, in digital governance issues because there are many opportunities to improve for the benefit of the consumer.”
The winners of the hackathon
One of the companies that not only took part but proceeded to complete their work on the algorithm for predicting faulty meters, winning the 1st place and a prize pool of 15,000 euros is Wings ICT Solutions, which is active in the field of big data, IoT, AR, AI and vertical analytics.The company started as a Startup and now ended up employing at least 150 people while aiming to export the cutting-edge technologies abroad. The winning team consists of Panagiotis Vlahas, Grigoris Maragakis, Konstantinos Tsangaris, Vangelis Gkiastas and Panagiotis Demestichas.
In the 2nd place was Core Innovation, which in turn received the cash prize of 2,000 euros for the algorithm of defective meters, while it deals with smart energy and prediction methods. The team consists of Stefanos Kokorikos, Nikos Kyriakoulis, Apostolos Chondronasios, Ioannis Meintanis, Ioannis Livieris, Spyridon Fourakis and Antigone Nikolaidou.
Libra AI, which works in the field of data science, offering services based on artificial intelligence and machine learning to businesses, was among those awarded for a consumption forecasting solution, a Startup founded in 2020 with a female presence and background abroad, after a brain regain process. The team consisted of Evi Brousta, Irene Darouis, Eleanna Koulettou, Vangelis Feka, Thanos Balomenos, Giannis Kopsinis and Panos Zoga.
A last proposal that stood out among others was that of Drop Outs, consisting however of a person Panagiotis Papaemmanouil based in Thessaloniki, who described his personal course in the competition after difficulties he encountered, after he started the effort with a team, ending up alone afterwards and managing nevertheless to claim the prize by acquiring it, having leveraged the data, the cloud, and the code he made, both at his own expense for the infrastructure, and with the help he received from the team of developers of EYDAP, in the project he was looking at for at least 2 months.
He spoke to Startupper about his experience with both EYDAP and the competition. Regarding the reasons he decided to take part in the competition and what attracted his interest, Mr. Papaemmanouil said that: “Generally because I work as a data scientist I am interested in innovation competitions. I’m in a Startup, innovation is in my blood, I deal with cutting-edge technologies. When I saw this competition and saw that it is supported by a big company like EYDAP, I knew that I want to participate because I had a lot to learn from EYDAP and I believe that I had enough to offer, as the result showed.”
In relation to the difficulties he faced throughout the course of the competition, he stated that: “When the competition started in January I was working as a data scientist in a Startup, I suggested to the company that we participate in this competition, but it was not in the company’s priorities so we did not participate and I decided to participate with another team outside the company. Along the way the team decided that it has other things to do, so I was left alone and decided that I would continue on my own. In the course of the competition, which lasted 13 months, I was fired from the company. Startups have a high degree of risk, there were financial problems, so along with other people I was fired. I stayed two months unemployed knowingly and by my choice. I didn’t try to find another company in order to be able to concentrate on this competition. On the other hand, I had problems with infrastructure as my computer was not enough to run the algorithms. At this point I again made a decision to purchase cloud infrastructure, so that I could continue to the end of the competition. I invested money but mostly time.”
When asked what “convinced” him to continue in the competition and did not let him abandon it, Mr. Papaemmanouil replied “Generally I read several books, I watch mentors and I have some mentors who support me and giving up is not in my nature. I believed from the beginning that I have things to offer and that I can win, I have the knowledge and the experience. That’s why I got to the end.”
Regarding the help offered to him by EYDAP in the context of the competition, he mentioned that: “EYDAP was next to me mainly in the emails I sent them. They didn’t answer me on a personal level, but all the questions I had asked were answered in the seminars they did. They had done two seminars and all the questions the contestants had asked were answered there. So I don’t have a complaint, from the company I got the support in the time it had to.”
Finally, he talked to us about his plans for the future, saying that: “I personally have been working in the field of technology for more than 4 years. Right now I’ve made a turn from data science and I’m in the product, I’m a product owner in a company. So I see this side of the product as well. My goal is at some point to found my own company and launch my own product that will meet some needs. I have something on my mind but it is too early to mention it.”