About Us

“We combine creative minds from CERN and non-profit organisations in interdisciplinary teams to work on humanitarian technology related benefits to society.”

Unite Innovators

Interdisciplinary teams of handpicked individuals chosen for their field-leading expertise and innovative minds combine humanitarian questions with state- of-the-art science, cutting-edge technology and endless fantasy.

Impact Future

The fusion of today’s real life problems analysis and a vision of scientific evolution of the next decades forces us to develop concepts and solutions for the future – hungry to use our expertise in challenges in new fields.

Act Today

Why not? There are no excuses – there is no better place than here – no better time than now – nobody more creative than you. If you just want to!

Hackathon Events

THE Port Association organises in-person and online events together with CERN IdeaSquare and partners from non-governmental organisations. The event is conducted as a hackathon, where teams tackle humanitarian challenges. Interdisciplinary teams of hand-selected innovators work together on topics such as infrastructure, health, communication, and education.

Event Location

The event is held at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. Participants have 24h access to the IdeaSquare lab situated next to the ATLAS experiment building. The final presentation is held from the the Globe of Science and Innovation.

Event Structure

If you successfully pass the application, you will be informed about your team members and your challenge 6 weeks ahead of the final event. In this preparation phase your team will be supported to organize video conferences to get to know each other. A collaborative workspace will allow you to jointly collect and communicate ideas, develop specifications, share inspirational pictures and videos, compose lists of needed materials and tools, discuss your strategy and co-edit concept papers, source code and presentations.

Your team coach and a pool of Experts On-Call will be available to help finding organisational and technical solutions. The day before the hackathon you will have the chance to visit experiments at CERN and meet our team in their usual work environment.

During the hackathon you will only have a few scheduled events. After a short welcome and introduction part you will introduce yourself (now in-person) to your team in a 3 minute pitch. In the evening of the first day your team will pitch your project to the other teams in 5 minutes. A midterm review on the second day will allow you to collect external feedback on your findings. A joint work breakfast on the 3rd day will give you the chance to glance into the challenges of the other teams.

Your results you will present and demonstrate in a 7 minute pitch to a broad audience at the cocktail reception in the evening. The after party will give you more space and time for discussion, review and networking. A one page summary of each teams results will be published together with all produced hardware, source code and documentation.

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A group of people waving in front of CERN's Globe building
In front of CERN's Globe of Science and Innovation.
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A view from inside the IdeaSquare building with its icon London Bus
Inside CERN's IdeaSquare lab.

Example Challenges

  • Tracking system for rescue and de-mining dogs
  • 10$ inflatable fridge for field operations
  • Humanitarian site demarcation in conflict zones

Example Agenda

Friday:

  • Morning registration and introduction
  • Teams meet & greet
  • Evening collective project pitch where other teams can ask questions

Saturday:

  • Midterm report

Sunday:

  • Morning joint work breakfast
  • Late afternoon final presentations
  • After-party

Intended Outcomes

  • Intense conceptualizations of
    innovative ideas
  • Quantitative analysis and proof-of-principle prototypes
  • Documentation in the form of texts, photos and videos
  • New networks between CERN and partner organizations
  • Promising projects will survive and will be driven forward

Benefits

  • You get the opportunity to analyze global matters together with innovative minds in CERN’s inspiring environment
  • The chance to use your expertise on new challenges in interesting fields
  • A unique mind-twisting event over 72 hours broaching ‘never asked questions’
  • Coaching and mentorship from our experts on location 
  • Support with video and photo documentation
  • Great lunches, snacks and drinks
  • Plenty of fun!

Event Participation

Registration will open three months before the event. The application is online via a registration form.

A board comprising of members from THE Port Association, CERN, and partnering organizations, will perform the selection of interdisciplinary teams. The board will assign each team a challenge.

Approximately one month before the event, participants will be informed about their team members and their topic. Teams will be provided with video conference capabilities and online collaborative workspaces to collect pictures and videos, data, code or documentation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a hackathon?

Originally composed from ‘Hack’ and ‘Marathon’ this problem-solving workshops started for intensive collaborative work between software developers – more general, as in our case, it is often seen as limited time innovation focused collaborative effort.

What is the goal of these hackathons?

Intense conceptualisations of innovative humanitarian ideas with starting quantitative analysis and conceptual prototypes so that the best ideas survive and can be driven forward after the event.

How do you select participants?

To apply, candidates are requested to fill a online questionnaire and provide a CV. A selection team and THE Port Advisory Board propose candidates upon which the assembly of the interdisciplinary teams will be based.

How to I get to the event?

Due to Covid-19, the 2020 and 2021 events will be held online.

How does it work?

All you need is a laptop with internet connection. Participants are informed before the event about their challenge and team and are supported in the following weeks to prepare. The Hackathon will contain only few scheduled events: a short introduction phase, mid-term and final presentations.

Do I need to be a computer specialist?

No, other than the word hackathon implies, THE Port hackathons are not necessarily purely software related projects and could therefore be of all kinds of nature. Thus we create multidisciplinary teams to add as much variety on skills to the teams as possible.​

Team

Executive Committee

Portait of a team member

Agnes Jakab

International HR & recruitment professional. Communication and volunteering enthusiast.

Portait of a team member

Ben Krikler

Ben is a particle physicist working on the CMS (CERN) and LUX-ZEPLIN (SURF, USA) experiments to search for Dark Matter. Ben graduated in Physics from Imperial College London and (after a brief stint learning to motorcycle in Asia) started his PhD in Particle Physics on the COMET experiment in Japan. Ben is an expert in large-scale distributed simulations, data analysis, machine learning, and general software development as a Fellow of the UK’s Software Sustainability Institute.

Portait of a team member

Ines Knäpper

Project Manager with strong background in Intercultural Management, Sales and Customer Service.

Portait of a team member

Karolos Potamianos

Karolos is physicist working on the ATLAS Experiment at CERN. He studied engineering and business administration at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and physics at Purdue University, earning his PhD searching for the Higgs boson using machine learning, before joining the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and DESY (Hamburg). He currently is an Ernest Rutherford Fellow at the University of Oxford. Karolos is an expert in large-scale data analysis, silicon pixel detectors, data acquisition and pattern recognition.

Organising Team

Portait of a team member

Daniel Dobos

Daniel is a particle physicist with a 15 year career at CERN working on silicon and diamond detectors as well as project management, large-scale data acquisition and analysis for the ATLAS experiment and the Large Hadron Collider. Daniel co-funded THE Port humanitarian hackathons at CERN, was program coordinator for the Geneva Global Goals Innovation Day (G3iD) and worked as Foresight & Futures Head for the United Nations hosted Global Humanitarian Lab (GHL).

Portait of a team member

Hans Baechle

Science Communication student, working at gluoNNet.

Portait of a team member

James Jennings

James is an entrepreneur, business consultant, and former executive with experience in coffee, renewable energy, health care, and other industries. This is his third hackathon with THE Port. He enjoys travel, cooking, skiing, hiking, rowing, and making maple syrup.

Portait of a team member

Kitty Liao

Kitty is an entrepreneur, engineer and innovator. She is a hackathon enthusiast and she has been with THE Port since its launch in 2014. She has 10+ years of experience in low-temperature and multi-disciplinary systems, user-centred design, vaccine cold-chain in hard-to-reach and remote areas, design for low-resource settings, prototyping and project management. She is founder and CEO of Ideabatic, an award-winning social enterprise. She is an Enterprise Fellow at the Royal Academy of Engineering (UK). Kitty enjoys travelling, designing and making her own clothes, cooking and swimming.

Portait of a team member

Lorena Freitas

Lorena has lived and worked in several countries while pursuing her passion to bridge the gap between technology and healthcare. She is currently a final year PhD student at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in Switzerland, where she develops signal processing methods to investigate how altered brain activity in preterm-born children can be reestablished through simple, non-invasive interventions. In 2015, she worked as a research assistant collecting brain data from patients in operating theatres at a hospital in London, to understand the effects of anaesthetics on awareness levels during surgery. Earlier that year, she obtained her MSc in Neuroscience after working in Amsterdam and Berlin on ways to improve brain-computer interfaces. Lorena is keen on applying the interdisciplinary analytical skills that she’s learned during her studies to solve problems in the world outside of neuroscience.

Portait of a team member

Monalisa Orofino

I am a Business Designer and a Digital Communication Strategist with experience in Design Thinking and Social Innovation. I am a natural creative problem-solver, with analytical curiosity for all that is new and out of my comfort zone. I love to help interesting people doing interesting things and I love to connect people and ideas to make things happen. I am half-Portuguese, half Italian, born in Germany and currently living in Milan. I feel comfortable working in multicultural teams where I can experience the magic of participatory creativity coming from diverse cultural perspectives. I have been involved in many hackathons, one of them is Versus Virus in 2020. In my spare time, I’m also a Meditation&Yoga teacher and a Shiatsu practitioner.

Portait of a team member

Nicolas Zanotti

Nicolas is a Software Engineer with a Master of Arts degree from the University of Middlesex, London. Since 2013, he has been contributing to the highly successful travel start-up GetYourGuide in Berlin and Zurich, where he held the position of Staff Front-End Engineer in the company’s Marketplace, Partnerships, and Responsible Tourism teams. Alongside his work, Nicolas teaches project management and web application development in the bachelor’s program of SAE Institute, Zurich. Nicolas appreciates beautiful design and code, and enjoys gardening, dogs, space opera, and travel.

Portait of a team member

Paolo Gradassi

Distracted engineer interested in making the world a better place.

Portait of a team member

Pierre Freyermuth

Authentic Proton-breeder, Electronic technician and Java developer.

Portait of a team member

Saco Heijboer

Saco is both a thinker and a tinkerer. Designing and making things in which functionality and form come together and complete the whole is his goal. Product development has been his passion and profession for 30 years; he has led projects for train refurbishment, production machinery and measurement equipment, always searching for new ways to solve design problems. Saco’s education covers civil, mechanical and control engineering, sociology, art, photography and graphic design. And he still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up.

Past Organisers

A big thanks to the people that helped write THE Port Association's story.

  • Bertrand Michels
    Portait of an alumni member

    Business Developer

  • Bilge Demirköz
    Portait of an alumni member

    Associate Professor at METU working on the AMS-02 experiment.

  • Branislav Ristic
    Portait of an alumni member

    Doctoral student working on silicon sensor technologies for the ATLAS experiment.

  • Bruno Silva De Sousa
    Portait of an alumni member

    IT engineer, service manager at CERN.

  • Hansdieter Schweiger
    Portait of an alumni member

    Mechanical Engineer working on Pixel detector and services upgrade for the ATLAS experiment.

  • Jens Dopke
    Portait of an alumni member

    Physicist working on silicon detector construction, calibration and operation, big fan of electronics.

  • Joao Pequenao
    Portait of an alumni member

    Chief Troublemaker at CERN Media Lab.

  • Josefina Espinosa
    Portait of an alumni member

    Sustainability Consultant and Founding Member of GreenBuzz Geneva. Bridging sustainability, business and education in innovative and collaborative initiatives.

  • Juliet Primo
    Portait of an alumni member

    Project consultant, communication and outreach.

  • Karola Dette
    Portait of an alumni member

    Doctoral student working on silicon sensor upgrade developments for the ATLAS experiment.

  • Leonardo Milano
    Portait of an alumni member

    Passionate about how innovation can help solving humanitarian challenges, in 2016 Leonardo joined the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) to carry out cutting-edge research on displacement related to conflicts and natural disasters worldwide. Trained as a physicist, Leonardo worked as data analyst in two of the world leading research organizations: CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research and LBL, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He holds a PhD in nuclear physics, is a native Italian speaker, fluent in English and French and has a working knowledge of Spanish.

  • Luisa Meneghetti
    Portait of an alumni member

    Luisa has been working for several organizations in the human rights field. Currently, she is researching on the cutting-edge topic of internal displacement caused by disasters for the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre based in Geneva, Switzerland. On the side, Luisa has also been involved with the Swiss startup GovFaces as head of development and outreach. She is an essentialist and a promoter of successful change under the motto “less but better”, a value that she wishes to bring to THE Port hackathon too.

  • Michael Kagan
    Portait of an alumni member

    Expert in large-scale data analysis, pattern recognition, and ATLAS pixel detector quality assurance.

  • Michael Leyton
    Portait of an alumni member

  • Naomi Kodama Fukumuro
    Portait of an alumni member

    A scientist working on plants and small animals for climate change issues.

  • Patricia Montalvo
    Portait of an alumni member

    I work as administrative manager. I love the idea of improving the life of those less favoured by using technology.

  • Ruben Fernandez Morcillo
    Portait of an alumni member

    Mechanical technician with knowledge in rapid prototyping machinery. Currently working as safety officer.

  • Valerio Rossetti
    Portait of an alumni member

    Dr. Valerio Rossetti worked for 8 years on the ATLAS experiment at CERN, where he contributed to the search for the possible production of dark matter in particle collision data. After a year as quantitative consultant in EY, he co-founded the startup SamurAI, based in Geneva. He develops solutions using artificial intelligence, automations and data analysis, for a variety of industries. He also organises training programs for professionals who want to boost their quantitative skills.

Any ideas for projects, challenges or questions we should work on? Or interested in sponsoring?

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