3 from Singapore in team that clinched top award at Swedish hackathon

(From left) Mr Adelric Wong, Ms Yanisa Suratpipit, Mr Daniel Andersson, Ms Neo Ann Qi and Mr Philip Eriksson of Team Vattn. They beat 75 other teams across six categories to bag the first prize of the Green Award at the three-day Hack for Sweden 2019
(From left) Mr Adelric Wong, Ms Yanisa Suratpipit, Mr Daniel Andersson, Ms Neo Ann Qi and Mr Philip Eriksson of Team Vattn. They beat 75 other teams across six categories to bag the first prize of the Green Award at the three-day Hack for Sweden 2019.PHOTO: NUS OVERSEAS COLLEGES - STOCKHOLM/FACEBOOK

A team of university students that included two Singaporeans and one Singapore permanent resident clinched one of the top awards at Sweden's largest hackathon event in Stockholm last week.

The team will now present its award-winning idea at the Almedalen Week event in the coastal city of Visby on July 5.

Almedalen Week is an annual forum attended by Swedish political party leaders.

Team Vattn beat 75 other teams across six categories to bag the first prize of the Green Award at the three-day Hack for Sweden 2019.

Team member and Singaporean Adelric Wong told The Straits Times on Thursday that his team's winning solution was an educational groundwater level dashboard that would warn households and industries in the Swedish coastal regions of emergencies such as droughts or floods.

It is able to predict future underground water levels and provides useful tips on what to do during such emergencies.

Mr Wong, 22, said that the win came as a surprise to his team of five, which includes another Singaporean, a Singapore permanent resident and two Swedes.

Their team name, Vattn, is a twist of the Swedish word vatten, which means water.

The team members started out with another idea involving climate change, but changed their minds on the second day, said Mr Wong, a software engineering and management undergraduate at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

"Day 3 was the awards ceremony, so this meant that our team only had the entire second day left to select a scope to focus on for our demonstration and presentation," he said. "All our effort, including going without enough sleep for three days, came to fruition with the win. It showcased the potential of Singaporean students studying overseas and those on exchange programmes collaborating together."

Mr Wong said he met two National University of Singapore (NUS) students - Singapore PR Yanisa Suratpipit and Singaporean Neo Ann Qi, both 22 - by chance at the event venue.

The pair are in Stockholm as part of the NUS Overseas Colleges' entrepreneurial programme.

About 14 students from the programme were in Stockholm for the hackathon.

The three decided to team up, along with Swedish members Philip Eriksson, 32, and Daniel Andersson, 39.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, NUS Overseas Colleges - Stockholm congratulated its students on the win and wrote: "Participating in hackathons abroad provides students with exposure to problems that are not as common in city areas like Singapore."

The team walked away with 30,000 Swedish kronor (S$4,400) in prize money.

Other categories at Hack for Sweden 2019 included education and science, jobs, business, and health.

Mr Wong said the experience has encouraged him to go out of his comfort zone more often, be willing to make tough decisions and also pursue his dream of becoming the founder of a start-up company in the future.

He also hopes to contribute more to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields in Singapore.

"The tech scene is growing and holds a lot of potential if more people are involved in these fields," he said.

When asked what advice he would give young Singaporeans, he said: "The first step is always the hardest, but the journey afterwards will be worth it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2019, with the headline '3 from S'pore in team that clinched top award at Swedish hackathon'. Print Edition | Subscribe