Undergraduates from Singapore part of 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 from Team Vattn.
(From left) Mr Adelric Wong, Ms Yanisa Suratpipit, Mr Daniel Andersson, Ms Neo Ann Qi and Mr Philip Eriksson from Team Vattn.PHOTO: COURTESY OF ADELRIC WONG

SINGAPORE - A team of mostly Singaporean university students has clinched one of the top awards at Sweden's largest hackathon event in Stockholm last week.

And they will now have the chance to present their solution on stage in Almedalen in the coastal city of Visby on July 5, at an annual event considered to be the most important forum for Swedish politics.

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 Adelric Wong told The Straits Times on Thursday (April 11) that the winning idea 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 Swedish citizens.

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

The team had started out with an 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 added.

"All our effort, including the fatigue from the lack of sleep for three days, came into 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 the two National University of Singapore (NUS) students Yanisa Suratpipit and 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 two Swedish team members are Philip Eriksson, 32, and Daniel Andersson, 39.

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

They walked away with 30,000 Swedish krona (S$4,400) in prize money.

Other categories at Hack for Sweden 2019 were in areas such as education and science, jobs, business and health.

Mr Wong said that 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 being 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."