Hacking solutions to MedTech challenges


Out of 25 applications from 14 different countries, five teams of students and young professionals were selected to come to CERN to solve challenges in the medical field. The challenges were set by healthcare organisations and industry partners and the teams were given access to relevant CERN technologies in order to solve them.

Why is a hackathon organised by CERN focusing on MedTech? Early activities at CERN relating to medical applications date back to the 1970s. In light of the significant growth in these activities, in 2017, CERN published a formal medical applications strategy (approved by the Council in June that year). The MedTech:Hack was initiated by the Knowledge Transfer group’s Medical Applications section and its Entrepreneurship team together, to explore new ways of developing viable applications in the field.

The challenges of the hackathon were set by the Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève (HUG), the Global Humanitarian Lab, RadiaBeam Technologies and G-ray. Moreover, to complement the technical know-how provided by CERN, the MedTech:Hack was organised in close collaboration with: HUG, providing access to medical doctors’ expertise; the Global Humanitarian Lab, offering a close link to several humanitarian organisations; Impact HUB, supporting the teams in business model development; The Port, which has extensive expertise in hackathons and also shared their methodology; and the Geneva Health Forum, providing an opportunity to present the results to the global health community. Finally, MassChallenge Switzerland partnered with MedTech:Hack to support a selected team on their way to becoming a start-up.

After three days of intense work and remarkable progress with the help of mentors from industry and technical experts from CERN, the AwardFEST took place on 9 April. The jury had a tough job selecting a winner and ended up choosing two of the teams.

Team 2.7 from Tanzania worked on the Global Humanitarian Lab’s challenge, on mobile health, finding a solution for people in rural areas to get better access to vital healthcare. The solution they came up with was Box.e, a portable device with several sensors to measure the vital signs of patients, using CERN’s C2MON technology to store and monitor data.

Team Radioactive_boys from Germany worked on HUG’s challenge on screening radiopharmaceuticals in a much faster and more efficient way. Their solution, Bioscan, is a modular hybrid scanner for the measurement of radioactivity. It is fast and boasts high spatial and temporal resolution using CERN’s GEMPix detector.

Both winning teams were rewarded with a stay at CERN to continue developing their projects. In addition, Team 2.7 got the opportunity to present their project at the opening ceremony of the Geneva Health Forum, while Team Radioactive_boys won a spot in the second round of judging at MassChallenge Switzerland.

Check out the video below, which summarises the weekend-long hackathon in two minutes.