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The Embassy organised the First Agro Hackathon in Uruguay

It was held at Expo Prado on 17-18 September, organised jointly with the Rural Association (ARU) and the Uruguayan IT Chamber (CUTI.)

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The aim of the Agro Hackathon was to find solutions to problems the agro sector faces in Uruguay.

The goal was to promote collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship and to find solutions to specific problems through the use of technology. Each one of the 14 teams was composed of three professionals with experience in agro, information technologies or business.

The teams were presented with five possible challenges and each chose one to work on. They worked over 36 hours to create a product together with a business plan that could work as a solution to the challenge. Some of the challenges were aimed at improving livestock and agricultural production and others at the protection of agricultural production.

Lucía San Roman, Martín Alurralde y Sergio Gorrochategui were the winning team. They developed Vigiator, a service that promotes an interesting security mechanism for livestock production.

Vigiator is a powerful monitoring and control system that alerts the producer via SMS about a situation of risk or theft to tackle the problem of livestock theft. A growing problem in Uruguay, where aa sheep was stolen every three hours in 2015.

This solution uses an accelerometer that informs the user of potentially abnormal behaviour in herds either due to theft or attacks by predators such as foxes or wild boar.

When explaining how the project works at the Agro Hackathon, the team showed the functionality of the application live by putting a mobile phone around the neck of a sheep in the best cowbell style.

They showed how they were able to track the sheep movements from the mobile application and see its location. The app has an icon to alert the Police (which directly calls the police station), lets the owner hear the ambient noise where the sheep is, alerts the producers’ neighbours and, if necessary, facilitates the electronic paperwork needed to report the theft to the Police including the location and name of the producer.

The team will continue working in this project to include all kinds of livestock. They will have the support of da Vinci Foundation, who offered 25 hours of business consulting to the winning team.

Sergio Gorrochategui and Martín Alurralde have been partners for many years and run the company Jalumar dedicated to the development of applications for Android, while Lucia San Roman is a student at the Faculty of Agronomy, UdelaR.

The three of them were rewarded with an invitation to attend the REAP Agri-Tech conference “Innovation for an agricultural revolution” that will take place in Cambridge in November, including flights and five-nights accommodation. They will also attend a conference on Drones for agricultural use at Harper Adams University.

The team that came in second place will receive 12 sessions of team coaching and a session of personal executive coaching from Human Capital Consulting. They will also get an online English course from the British Council. In addition, da Vinci Foundation will also provide 15 hours of business consulting through da Vinci Labs.

The team that won the third prize will receive an online English course from British Council and 10 hours of business incubator consulting by da Vinci Labs.

The jury, comprising Katharine Felton from the British Embassy, José Bonica from ARU and Álvaro Lamé from CUTI, praised the simplicity of the business model and the effective and concrete solution provided to solve the problem posed.

The Agro Hackathon was supported by IBM, University of Montevideo and AGESIC, among other organisations, including Ebizmarts, CAF, Ingenio, Software Testing Bureau and ICA. Fourteen mentors from those institutions were present throughout the 36 hours to guide the teams as they developed their proposals.

Other companies that participated in this initiative were: British Council, HCC, Harper Adams, da Vinci Labs, MGAP, INIA and Pedidos Ya, who provided catering during the event.

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Published 29 September 2016