AWS Public Sector Blog

Hacking COVID-19: Hackathons take on the challenges of the pandemic

empty classroom after a hackathon

Novel challenges require novel solutions. To address the COVID-19 pandemic, public sector organizations are holding virtual hackathons to solve problems that arise from the virus and its effects on society.

Hackathons #WirVsVirus in Germany, Hack the Crisis in Sweden, and #EUvsVirus brought together thousands of stakeholders to brainstorm and create innovative solutions using technology and cloud computing to address the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. Attendees at these virtual events worked to find solutions for problems like faster diagnosis of COVID-19 and connecting food with those in need.

From technical mentorship to AWS Promotional Credit and providing access to technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), Amazon Web Services (AWS) supported these hackathons, their participants, and their solutions.

Discover more about each:


One of the biggest hackathons ever—with more than 44,000 registrants and 28,000 participants—took place in Germany this March. The federal chancellery organized the #WirVsVirus hackathon in response to COVID-19. Participants hacked solutions for challenges like figuring out how to allocate hospital beds, tracing chains of infection, organizing COVID-19 testing, or bringing food safely from farms to the homeless.

The judges selected more than 120 projects to be developed through an incubator program. Ten projects with the “greatest potential and urgency” joined the Solution Enabler Program, a project accelerator. These ten projects included solutions that aimed to: connect urban workers with farmers who need help with harvest; link supplies of food with food banks and communities in need; quickly answer questions about short-term work benefits; match and connect people in search of employment; rectify and match supply and demand of critical medical equipment; and sync people who are ill or isolated with loved ones and community. Additionally, the hackathon created a community forum for participants to collaborate, as well as a crowdfunding opportunity. Teams are continuing to develop their solutions to deploy.

AWS provided $500 in AWS Promotional Credit to more than 300 teams. AWS Professional Services consultants and solutions architect helped throughout the hackathon and sprints to provide technical support and mentorship. Learn more about #WirVsVirus.

Hack the Crisis Sweden

Hack for Sweden (HfS) is a government mission raised to increase the awareness and use of open data. The mission’s focus and goal is to stimulate and broaden the use of open data for the benefit of society. More than 7,000 people participated in a COVID-19 hackathon in April, with teams focused on addressing one of three challenge areas: saving lives, communities, or businesses. Hack the Crisis was the official COVID-19 online hackathon organized by Regeringskansliet (The Swedish Government), DIGG (Agency for Digital Government), Hack for Sweden, and Openhack. AWS has been a partner to Hack for Sweden since 2018.

Winning solutions included solutions to help: connect individuals in search of work with employers that are hiring, based on business needs; identify people and businesses that can get back to normal course of business; protect health care professionals with protective gear (a visor); connect struggling businesses that citizens that want to help; and digitally diagnose COVID-19.

As part of their participation in the hackathon, AWS provided 100 teams AWS Promotional Credit as well as technical mentorship and guidance.


Modeled after #WirVsVirus in Germany, the European Commission launched #EUvsVirus, an initiative to fight against the unexpected challenges presented by the global pandemic. Led by the European Innovation Council, the initiative brought together the European Commission, 40 European Member States and guest countries, 600 volunteers, 300 civil societies, 120 universities and research centers, 60 public authorities, 15 private partners, and more. Two main events focused on six challenges: health and life, business continuity, social and political cohesion, remote working and education, digital finance, and others.

Selected projects include solutions to help connect individuals in abusive relationships with resources during lockdown and wearable solutions for physiotherapy rehabilitation treatment.

AWS supported all selected programs through AWS Activate, a program to help accelerate the growth of startups. The AWS team also provided technical support and mentorship as well as training.

Read more about AWS solutions for remote work and remote learning, virtual healthcare, and hackathons. Learn more about the Registry of Open Data on AWS, and check out AWS Online Tech Talks and AWS Training and Certification.