European students helped improve Estonian companies

A business and education network of European universities and Estonian companies held a three-day international hackathon at Ülemiste City to exchange knowledge and talent, where Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences (ViA) students Elina Smolaka, Janis Kumsars and others found solutions to the challenges of companies at the City.

Along with the Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences, the developers of Ülemiste City have initiated an international network called Building Educational Cooperation in Smart City. Representatives of the network met in Tallinn this week. As a part of the networking process, companies, students and lecturers met, took part in joint discussions, an open lecture on the future of artificial intelligence and a hackathon during which talents, from different countries solved practical issues Ülemiste City's companies face. The meeting focused on the challenges presented by digitalisation in smart cities.

According to Kadi Pärnits, Chairman of Mainor AS Management Board, the cooperation network uniting Estonian companies and universities from six different countries has been brought to life precisely for the purpose of making Estonia more knowledgeable – being up-to-date with the newest trends helps create innovation. "Extensive cooperation with other Nordic and Baltic universities helps our companies develop their business and work environments but, even more importantly, create connections with future talents," Pärnits explained the aims of AS Mainor and Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences upon creating the network.

She confirmed that companies found the ideas presented at the mini-hackathon valuable and planned to develop them in cooperation with students in the near future. For example, students offered several marketing solutions to Nordea Bank AB Estonia for attracting new employees, suggested ways Zone Media could create passwords for users and much more. The network has already served as a basis for new cooperation projects, for example, Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Science and Nordea are about to create a joint scholarship fund for finance students.

According to Zone Media's cyber security guru Peeter Marvet, students offered fresh ideas for refuting the widely spread myth that secure passwords must always contain different case letters, numbers and punctuation. "In reality, these passwords are weak and prone to be attacked by malicious people, it would be better to use regular three to four-letter phrases that are easy to remember," he explained. Marvet confirmed cooperation with students would continue.

Ülemiste City companies that gave talks and presented their digital challenges included Zone Media, ABB, Qvalitas Medical Centre, Nordea Bank ABP Estonia, e-Estonia Briefing Centre, Technopolis Ülemiste, Mainor Ülemiste and Mainor.

Lecturers and students from Oulu University of Applied Sciences, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Aalborg University, Vilnius College, Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences, Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences and International School of Tallinn worked on the presented issues.

The project is funded by the Nordplus Horizontal programme of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ centre for Norwegian education and international cooperation. The network's next meeting will take place in Ülemiste City already from 14 to 16 October. The meeting will focus on cooperation between companies and schools to develop workbased learning.


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Katrin Sulg

Mainor AS, Content Manager for Services