Johanne Vad, a postdoctoral researcher based in the Changing Oceans Group at the University of Edinburgh working within the EU-ATLAS project, was amongst the participants. Johanne writes “The hackathon was great fun and I learned a lot! During this 3-day event, I had the chance to network with many data scientists and gained a better understanding of new types of data analysis. I particularly enjoyed working with my team and participating in the different workshops organised by IMEC, especially the machine learning and the pitching workshops.”

Johanne was part of team Overlap along with Steffen Hammerschmidt (MARUM, Germany), Håvard Holm (NTNU, Norway), Michiel Matthijs (Cargill, Belgium) and Inne Withouck (NAFC Marine Centre, UK). Together they developed a machine learning based tool to predict the impact of new human activities on benthic community composition. Johanne explains “By comparing protected sites and sites where human activities such as wind farming or aquaculture are currently taking place, machine learning algorithms can determine how benthic community composition has already changed and how it would change with future developments.” To achieve this, the team used data from multiple EMODnet portals, the ICES database as well as the Copernicus repository.

Hackathon photo

Team Overlap. From left to right, Håvard Holm (NTNU, Norway), Inne Withouck (NAFC Marine Centre, UK), Johanne Vad (University of Edinburgh, UK), Steffen Hammerschmidt (MARUM, Germany) and Michiel Matthijs (Cargill, Belgium). (c) OpenSeaLab

All 15 teams taking part in this Hackathon managed to produce some great prototypes, thanks to the amazing help from the many data coaches! On the last day, each team presented their ideas and a few teams were awarded prizes from a panel of nine jury members. But for all the participants, the event felt like a great success. Johanne says: “I would sign up for another OpenSeaLab without hesitation! And I am now thinking of ways I could apply the new skills I have learned during the event in my research within the ATLAS project”.

To know more about the event, please visit the Open Sea Lab website at