The Grand Finale of the Ecocraft Hackathon!

The final gala of the Ecocraft project can hardly be called just the final stage of an interesting competition. The event on 13 September in Kraków, accompanying the Stanisław Lem Festival, was first and foremost a meeting of representatives of socially responsible enterprises with young people who share an interest in technology and ecology. The gala was a summary of the competition held for the second time. Competition on Minecraft and Ecology The Kozminski Business Hub, in partnership with Kozminski University, Microsoft, Millennium Bank, and TAURON, organized a competition dedicated to Minecraft for the second time. It was held in two stages. In the first one, the participant's task was to create a concept for plugin that would add ecological element to the game and hence focus the attention of the gaming community on environmental issues.

Teams of several people joined the challenge and qualified to participate on the basis of a recruitment task. An introductory workshop was held prior to the 24-hour competition part of the event.

On June 23, the main part of the hackathon – the first phase of the competition – began. The participants had to develop a concept and implementation plan for their plug-in within 24 hours, using the programming languages Java and Python. While working, teams were able to get support from mentors and refine their concepts to perfection. Three elements of the teams’ outputs were assessed:  

  • creating a plug-in concept at the event,
  • the value of environmental advocacy,
  • the possibility of implementing a game plug-in.

Mentoring support for the event was provided by the UNEP/GRID-Warsaw Centre and the Stanisław Lem Institute for the Future of Poland. The entire Hackaton was held in an online form.

During the second stage, the winning teams of the first stage prepared ready-to-implement add-ons based on the approved concepts to extend Minecraft’s capabilities with environmental aspects over the course of the June and August.

The implementation was overseen by mentors Daniel Starczewski (UNEP/GRID-Warsaw Centre and Borys Jastrzębski (Kozminski University).

Evaluation of Prepared Add-ons   During the final gala, the reports and final presentations of the Hackaton participants were evaluated by a Jury consisting of:

  • Prof. Aleksandra Przegalińska, Vice-Rector for International Relations and ESR, Kozminski University
  • Magdalena Trzynadlowska, Head of Sustainable Development Office, Bank Millennium
  • Mariusz Jurczyk, Executive Director of the Business Continuity and IT Management, Tauron Polska Enenrgia S.A.
  • Jolanta Domirska, Head of the Environmental Protection and Closed-loop Economy Team, Tauron Polska Energia S.A
  • Maria Andrzejewska, General Director UNEP/GRID-Warsaw
  • Borys Jastrzębski, Representative of Kozminski University
  • Ewa Kołodziejczyk, Industry Executive Education, Microsoft
  • Iwona Cieślak, Member of the Management Board Finance and Investmment, Kozminski Business Hub.

The committee, therefore, included people selected by the organizer and partners of the EcoCraft Hackathon. Course for Responsible Entrepreneurship The presentation of the competing projects was preceded by a debate by representatives of the challenge's partners.

The following took part in the debate:

  • Łukasz Zimnoch, Head of Media Relations at TAURON Polska Energia S.A.
  • Magdalena Trzynadlowska, Director of the Sustainable Development Office at Bank Millennium
  • Maria Andrzejewska, Director of UNEP/GRID–Warsaw Centre
  • Ewa Kołodziejczyk, Industry Executive–Education Microsoft

The discussion was moderated by Rene Helmans from the Marketing Office of Kozminski University.

The panelists described a positive trend developing rapidly in Polish business. More and more large and smaller companies are taking the UN Sustainable Development Goals into account in their stages. Companies are recognizing their potential to make the necessary changes for a shared future. They are taking into account their impact on climate change and combining it. They care about the well-being of their employees. They support charitable organizations. Companies are committed to transparency in their operations and are embracing better management practices.

In this way, large companies want to respond to the growing awareness of their customers. To offer them not only their products and services but also the promise of making a positive impact on different areas of their lives.

Not surprisingly, the Ecocraft project was eagerly supported for the second time by Partners from the big business world.

Awarded Teams

Three teams (although the first team of one participant) took part in the final: EcoMak, VerdeCraft, Giga Blocks Incorporated. The results were announced by the chairman of the Jury, Mariusz Jurczyk, Executive Director for Business and IT Management at TAURON Polska Energia S.A.

The winning EcoMak project introduces Pollution Points into the game to motivate players to care for the environment. Players' non-environmental decisions will be reflected in the Pollution Points they receive. The more of them, the worse the living conditions in the game environment will become. The highest possible number of Pollution Points received makes it impossible to continue playing in a damaged world. The prize was proffered by the representative of Bank Millennium

The VerdeCraft team created a plug-in that firstly introduces the issue of pollution resulting from CO2 emissions into the Minecraft world, and then proposes ways in which this pollution can be avoided, for example by producing nuclear energy. The plug-in attaches elements related to the construction of a nuclear power plant to the game, such as a uranium fuel cell, a uranium reactor, water turbines, and more. With this plug-in, players also have to reckon with the negative consequences of their non-environmental actions, such as melting ice, fires, and perceived nausea. The award was proffered by representatives of TAURON Polska Energia S.A.

The Giga Blocks team has developed a plug-in that implements a pollution system and associated heating systems. The plug-in is based on a pollution map. Data collected from the player's actions are collected and presented in the form of a heat map, which can be scaled and represented in the game. Heat islands and their negative effects, such as smog, nausea, and annoying heat, can be reduced by environmentally friendly actions. Players are thus encouraged to plant trees and grass and use alternative energy sources such as solar panels. The award was proffered by a Microsoft representative.

At the Gala, each team was awarded a cash prize worth 7000 PLN for the implementation of their project.

Opinions of the Jury The Jury emphasized the diversity of the projects, but also the fact that the solutions proposed by the teams complemented each other.

EcoCraft is a fantastic event. As a juror, I was very impressed by the projects presented, the tremendous work put into their preparation, the participants' understanding of the dangers of climate change and their ability to transfer them to the world of Minecraft. The pro-environmental solutions that the winners proposed, depicting actions that affect the environment both negatively and positively, have, in my opinion, great educational value for players. The excitement of the presentation of the competition solutions was preceded by a panel on a variety of issues related to ESG, especially education in this area. From my point of view, ESG is of great importance for Polish companies, and the benefits associated with the implementation of sustainable development principles are "sheer good" for them. It is also worth remembering the special role of banks in providing financing for investments for the transition to a sustainable economy. Green investments are essential to decelerate the process of negative climate change – said Magdalena Trzynadlowska, director of the Sustainability Office at Bank Millennium.             

The EcoCraft Hackathon connects ALK's technology ambitions with our sustainability plan and our investment in ventures AND partnerships that increase knowledge AND commitment to the SDGs through emerging technologies – Prof. Aleksandra Przegalińska, Vice Rector for International Relations and ESR, Kozminski University.

Any event that promotes technology and puts people and fundamental values at the center, which is undoubtedly climate transformation, is worth supporting with the authority of our patron Stanislaw Lem, which is why we decided to support the organization of the Hackathon – Maciej Kawecki, Ph.D., of the Stanisław Lem Institute for the Polish Future.

We are very happy that a project like Ecocraft, which promotes climate protection and pollution reduction, is reaching where young people spend their time. As in any social change, one needs to take advantage of habits, in this case the habits of Minecraft users, rather than ignore or fight them. From the perspective of Kozminski Business Hub, we always support effective and efficient actions. We are already looking forward to the third edition of Ecocraft, which we will support organizationally as now – Jan Dąbrowski, CEO of Kozminski Business Hub

We invite you to watch the video from the winning project of Mikołaj Makowski's one-man EcoMak Team: