BioBoosters - Boosting the circular transition

The story about Võiste Hackathon

11 June 2024
Technical details

Võiste Hackathon Sparks International Innovation in Circular Bioeconomy

The BioBoosters Võiste Hackathon, held on May 16-17 at the Pärnu County Development Centre’s Innovation Hub, successfully brought together international teams and mentors to develop sustainable solutions for biomass valorization in tomato horticulture. Organized by Pärnu County Development Centre and Võiste Greenhouse in close collaboration with nine bioeconomy innovation hubs from the Baltic Sea Region, this event marked a pivotal moment in advancing the circular bioeconomy in Pärnu County.

Bringing Together International Expertise

Six international teams from Sweden, Finland, Poland, and Estonia worked intensively over two days to present their innovative solutions aimed at transforming horticultural residue biomass into valuable resources. The event also featured 12 international mentors who provided guidance and expertise, fostering an environment of collaboration and creativity.

Highlight of the Hackathon

The highlight of the hackathon was the announcement of the winning team – Biochar from Bydgoszcz University of Science and Technology in Poland. Their solution to convert greenhouse biomass into biochar impressed judges with its innovativeness, economic viability, technical feasibility, and environmental impact. This versatile product can be used as a fertilizer, soil improver, filtration material, cosmetics ingredient, and phytotoxins absorber, enhancing Võiste Greenhouse’s business model and sustainability impact.

Satisfied Challenge Provider

Mirko Metsaoru, the owner of Võiste Greenhouse, expressed his satisfaction: “The whole hackathon process was exceptionally well-organized, and we are thrilled with the wide range of solutions that emerged. The level of innovation and the high quality of solutions presented far exceeded our expectations. This event underscored the immense potential of international cooperation in tackling sustainability challenges and advancing the circular bioeconomy. The winning solution not only meets our needs but also opens up exciting new avenues for us in technology and market opportunities.”

Next Steps for Võiste Greenhouse

Võiste Greenhouse plans to proceed with the Biochar team by identifying the biochemical properties of biochar produced from Võiste’s green biomass using pyrolysis technology and mapping the bioeconomy value chains for its most beneficial applications. “Beyond the promising solution for our sustainability challenge, the greatest value from the Võiste Hackathon is the extensive national and international network of industry experts and solution providers. This network is invaluable as we continue to explore and develop future circular business models,” concluded Metsaoru.

What Makes BioBoosters Hackathon Unique?

Originally developed at Jamk University of Applied Sciences, the BioBoosters Hackathon concept has proven to be very effective when it comes to initiating business-oriented R&D collaboration. The starting point of each hackathon is a real challenge from a relatively large company looking for partners, expertise, and solutions. The focus on one company and one challenge distinguishes the BioBoosters Hackathon from other models. This approach provides a unique opportunity for SMEs, start-ups, and research teams to test and develop their ideas in dialogue with a potential customer and a variety of experts.

The flexible process can work fully on-site, fully online, or in a hybrid format, using professional digital platforms and facilitating in-person/online collaboration and collaborative learning. On Võiste Hackathon days, only one team was fully participating on-site, the rest of the teams had one person on-site in Pärnu and the other team member(s) online. Additionally, out of the pool of 12 international mentors, two offered their mentorship online, while the others were fully present in Pärnu.

The Impact of the BioBoosters Hackathon

Thanks to the Võiste Hackathon, Võiste Greenhouse found several highly innovative ideas for using greenhouse biomass and they will now test at least two of these ideas in pilot projects with the solution providers. The rapid implementation of these solutions will contribute to better resource utilization, supporting Võiste Greenhouse’s goal of green transition and finding new business models.

The BioBoosters Hackathon is a highly structured process that generates a large number of ideas and solutions in a manageable time frame. This process involves industry experts, research institutions, and technology companies, providing diverse perspectives and fostering collaboration and synergy. Integrating the BioBoosters Hackathon model into Pärnu County’s regional innovation system enables acceleration of the transition to a sustainable circular bioeconomy by fostering collaboration between academia, industry, and local authorities. This integration will drive innovation in bio-based solutions, enhance the valorization of local biomass resources, and create new value chains. Additionally, the hackathon service model serves as a platform to build new partnerships and networks, both locally and internationally, thereby strengthening the regional innovation ecosystem and contributing to the development and implementation of the regional circular bioeconomy roadmap, as well as the national smart and sustainable specialization strategy.

Lessons for Other Hackathon Organizers

In a nutshell, our key lessons include the importance of time resources, flexibility in working with challenge providers, and thorough planning. It is crucial to have a dedicated point of contact with the challenge provider and to understand the whole process. Ensuring relevant expertise and connecting diverse skills to foster open innovation dialogue is imperative and trusting the process and facilitating collaboration is essential for success.

  1. Prioritize Time Management

Allocate sufficient time for planning and executing the hackathon. Proper time management ensures that all aspects of the event are well-coordinated and reduces last-minute issues.

  1. Maintain Flexibility

Be flexible when working with challenge providers. Adapt to their needs and constraints to ensure smooth collaboration and successful outcomes.

  1. Thorough Planning

Invest time in meticulous planning, especially for the final hackathon days. Assign clear roles and responsibilities within the organizing team to ensure seamless execution.

  1. Dedicated Point of Contact

Establish a dedicated point of contact for the challenge provider. This facilitates efficient communication and swift resolution of queries and tasks.

  1. Understand the Entire Process

Ensure that all organizers understand the entire hackathon process. This knowledge helps in explaining each step to participants and stakeholders, ensuring transparency and trust.

  1. Foster Open Innovation

Create an environment that encourages open innovation dialogue by connecting participants with relevant expertise and diverse skills.

  1. Handle Submissions Wisely

When defining the challenge, consider the scope carefully. A broader challenge can attract more solutions but requires handling a larger volume of submissions and teams.

  1. Clear Communication

Communicate openly and clearly with participants about the competitive nature of the hackathon. Clarify expectations from the outset to avoid misunderstandings.

  1. Trust the Process

Trust the hackathon process. Facilitate collaboration and ensure that all participants have the necessary information and resources to focus on the challenge.

  1. Be Prepared for Surprises

Following the BioBoosters hackathon organizer check-list enhances the efficiency and impact of the event, so plan thoroughly but be prepared to handle unexpected issues calmly. Flexibility and a problem-solving mindset are key to managing unforeseen challenges.

International Partnership and Support

Our international partners played a crucial role in organizing the BioBoosters Hackathon. They helped find solution providers, spread marketing information, and provided external mentors. The BioBoosters network significantly enhanced the process, fostering better collaboration and synergy.


The Võiste Hackathon showcased the power of international cooperation in advancing the circular bioeconomy. With innovative solutions and a strong network of experts, Võiste Greenhouse is well-positioned to explore new business models and enhance its sustainability impact. For Pärnu County Development Centre and Innovation Hub, providing the BioBoosters hackathon service, it is an impactful international cooperation model catalyzing innovation and collaboration across multinational networks in the circular bioeconomy field. It unites project partners, academia, and companies to develop sustainable solutions that valorize side-streams and transform waste into valuable resources, drive economic growth, and enhance environmental stewardship for a resilient and prosperous future.

For more information about the BioBoosters Võiste Hackathon and upcoming BioBoosters events, please contact:

Svea Uusen, Project Manager, BioBoosters Project

Email: | Mobile: +372 505 1797

Pärnu County Development Centre and Innovation Hub

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