EASME’s EIC COVID-19 Challenge platform powered by Joinup

EASME’s EIC COVID-19 Challenge platform: "Tackle COVID-19 related challenges through ground-breaking solutions"

Published on: 22/10/2020
Last update: 28/10/2020



On 13 May 2020, EASME’s EIC COVID-19 Challenge platform was launched following up on the COVID-19 EUvsVIRUS Hackathon & Matchathon event. To gain insight into how this was set up (and how Joinup helped), we talked with Christoforos Korakas, Senior IT Projects Advisor from EASME A2 / EIC Task Force, who has been coordinating this new initiative.

We see that the Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME) and its European Innovation Council (EIC) Task Force are involved in this endeavour. Could you briefly explain their purpose and main activities in this?

EASME - Christoforos Korakas
Christoforos Korakas
Senior IT Projects Advisor
EASME A2 / EIC Task Force

On 24-26 April, the European Commission, led by the European Innovation Council Task Force and in close collaboration with EU Member States, hosted a Pan-European Matchathon to connect civil society, innovators, partners, and investors across Europe in order to develop innovative solutions for coronavirus-related challenges.

Over 30,000 people from across the EU and beyond submitted 2,164 projects related to various domains including health and life (899), business continuity (381), remote working and education (272), social and political cohesion (453), digital finance (76), and other challenges (83).

117 finalists and winners were selected, and invited to the EUvsVirus Matchathon (22-25 May), helping teams match with corporates, investors, accelerators, venture capitalists, etc. around the world to put their innovative solutions into production and save lives.

The EIC COVID-19 Challenge platform is surely a thing of its times. What was the main drive behind its creation and what does the platform have to offer to its users?

The EIC COVID-19 Challenge platform was built as a concrete follow up to this great experiment to allow the 117 challenge winners to expose their solutions and attract additional support. Furthermore, the EIC challenge platform aims at attracting new challenges from public and private stakeholders, new innovative solutions and support pledges.

EASME opted for the reuse of Joinup’s source code in order to create the EIC COVID-19 Challenge platform. What elements led to that decision?

We received the mandate from Commissioner Mariya Gabriel to build the platform to support the overall initiative to find innovative solutions to the pressing COVID-19 Challenges, with very short deadlines. Looking at our options we first turned to existing solutions in the Commission that we could reuse, to save time and resources, following the synergies and efficiencies principles.

Looking at Joinup it struck me that most of the functionality we needed was there. It was more a matter of rebranding the features, deploying a copy of the tool and migrating key data.

I knew many of the leaders of the project through other collaborations so I immediately explored possible synergies. Their response was immediate and very encouraging. Inter-service collaboration at its best!

This whole initiative came to fruition in just 3 weeks and a half (!) with teams collaborating across EASME/EIC and DG DIGIT/Joinup. What would you say were the key elements which helped with delivering in such a short timespan?

Indeed. Delivering a platform in 3,5 weeks in the Commission context, from my experience the last 10 years working on IT projects, is almost mission impossible. Yet with an exceptional will to help from the side of the Joinup team and great collaboration between our teams, even some times over evenings and weekends, we managed to put it in production on time, while also adding the “support pledge” functionality which was a new feature. The main factor that led to the successful deployment in time was thus the exceptional collaboration among teams both at development and policy level.

The EIC COVID-19 Challenge platform is a good example of Sharing & Reuse, a Commission policy standard. Would you recommend other EU agencies/organisations or SMEs consider Joinup for their needs, and why?

Absolutely. Not only is the Joinup platform very well built, but the team is ready to help for anyone wanting to reuse or customise it to their needs. The great advantage of the platform is that it is built to handle the exchange of structured data among various stakeholders. Data collection, data exchange and reuse, are key strategic objectives of the European Commission (EU data strategy) and key drivers for many of the policies, processes, projects and initiatives led by the Commission. In this context Joinup is ideally placed to become central to this strategy and its implementation allowing for Commission services to fully leverage its structured data collection and exchange capabilities.

What are the future plans for the EIC COVID-19 Challenge platform?

The idea is to keep the current EIC COVID Challenge alive and kicking while continuously improving it and investing resources to moderate and animate the communities, hosting it at least until March - April 2021. After that, we expect the new EIC Community platform to emerge and to integrate a lot of the Joinup functionality to implement the EIC Innovation Business Marketplace as part of its main offering to the European Innovation Council beneficiaries and broader European Innovation Community.

Any last thoughts you would like to share with Joinupers?

Big thumbs up for the great work and keep adapting the platform to the ever evolving, increasingly complex and ever important field of data collection, management and open sharing as a key driver to value generation – being it in the public or private sector.  

It is very important to keep on building robust capacity in this domain in the EU from the public interest and public service point of view. Recognising open data as a key driver for growth and innovation, we need to continue the public investment in this domain relying on open source and open standards balancing the otherwise vastly privatised service delivery.


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Wed, 06/07/2022 - 13:34

Thank you so  much