The first hybrid BioHackathon Europe

The first ever hybrid BioHackathon Europe was held 8 - 12 November in Barcelona, Spain and welcomed 154 face-to-face and 172 virtual participants. Working collaboratively over tables, screens and time zones on 37 projects, new data, features and friendships were moulded over the course of an intensive week of hacking. The event was a huge success, with approximately 97% of surveyed participants stating that they would recommend this event to their colleagues. 

Projects were pitched in the opening session, which also included a keynote presentation from ELIXIR Spain’s Head of Node, Alfonso Valencia, who highlighted the research and facilities at the local Barcelona Supercomputing Centre (BSC). Toshiaki Katayama followed with his keynote detailing the foundation of the BioHackathon concept with the National Bioscience Database Center (NBDC) and the Life Science Integrated Database Center (DBCLS) organisations in Japan.

A group of participants at BioHackathon Europe gather around a screen displaying Remo, the virtual workspace software that enables face-to-face participants to work with virtual participants.

The 37 projects had a broad range of themes, from investigating demographics and biases in scientific research to creating a new ontology for wine tasting. Others took a direct approach to create new features in existing resources, including an aim to make fit for workflows, and expanding support for the Common Workflow Language in Galaxy. Projects related to training also featured heavily, with a project aiming to develop a tool to 

evaluate the Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR) metrics of training materials, and another to define step-by-step protocols to develop learning paths. BioHackathon Europe also welcomes projects and participants from industry, and several companies were present including Atos and their Quantum Learning Machine, MathWorks (MATLAB), Owkin, and DNAnexus

The development of the projects is at the core of the BioHackathon and approximately 80% of surveyed participants estimated that work they completed at the BioHackathon would have taken between a month and a year to complete, with an additional 13% stating that the work would have never been completed without the BioHackathon. Each project progressed in its own way, and the full details of their outputs can be found on the ELIXIR BioHackathon Europe 2021 GitHub repository

The event was not all work and no play! Participants had social events to attend, including a hybrid quiz for virtual and in-person participants, and a table-tennis tournament and ‘Catena da Vinci’ team challenge to build a large-scale marble run for the face-to-face attendees. The host country ELIXIR Spain also arranged a surprise social event on the closing evening.

Take a look at how the event unfolded by viewing the #BioHackEU21 hashtag on twitter. BioHackathon Europe 2022 will take place 7 - 11 November, venue to be confirmed. To find out more about the BioHackathon Europe please visit the BioHackathon Europe website.

A combined image showing the group photo taken at the BioHackathon Europe 2021 venue in Spain and the virtual participant zoom screenshot

Thu 18 November 2021