WUR Life Sciences Hack

25 10 2019
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Apply until
14 oktober
25 & 26 October 2019
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Event details

Aanmelden tot:
Register until:
14 oktober
25 & 26 October 2019
Event fee:
Voor wie:
For whom?

Highly motivated creative people, life sciences experts, data/IT savvies. Individuals as well as groups can register.

Plekken vrij:
Places left:

Wageningen University
Forum, building number 102
Droevendaalsesteeg 2
6708 PB Wageningen

foto nutreco vlaggen


Friday 25th and Saturday 26th of October 2019

** Update: for a full description of the challenges, check out the blog series **

Plant scientists will meet front end developers, animal scientists will meet machine learning experts, students meet agri business partners. Collaboratively we will wrangle data, build prototypes and code API’s to address pressing data issues from the life sciences.

In October, we are organising a two-day WUR Life Sciences hackathon. An event to ignite data- and tech-driven collaborations between students, tech entrepreneurs, researchers and domain experts. The purpose of the hackathon is to have creative (tech) talent from different universities, students, and young professionals work on targeted challenges, side by side with representatives of leading Dutch agri businesses.

The following companies will challenge you to help and co-create solutions for real life challenges they are working on: Hendrix Genetics, working on digital phenotyping; Lely in collaboration with Rovecom, hacking existing feed algorithms; RVO, finding solutions for datagovernance by hacking machine data; and Unilever, working on sustainable solutions for food and consumer products.

The hackathon is embedded in the European wide Smart Agri Hubs program, which is unleashing the innovation potential for the digital transformation in Agrifood. They have made available prize money of € 10.000,- !!



For the hackathon two innovative agtech companies have joined forces:  Lely is a leading international family business providing innovative solutions to dairy farmers. Rovecom is a Dutch software company. Lely milking robots gather data on individual cows, such as milk quantity and quality, indicative for cow health. Rovecom software for feeding management holds data on feed composition and expected intake. Farms that use both Lely robots and Rovecom software have data on the same cows, from both sources. For the hackathon the two companies have compiled a unique dataset with thousands of cows. This opens an array of possibilities to determine correlations between feeding and cow health, and possibly find new ones!

For this challenge we are looking for aspiring data scientists, animal scientists, vets, and bioinformaticians, who help us to improve animal welfare and make farming more sustainable. Are you able to handle large and complex datasets? And do you have ideas to analyse data in different ways? At the hackathon you will be guided by mentors from Lely, Rovecom and WUR.

Read more about the challenge and meet the challengers in this blogpost


Modern tractors and machines are equipped with sensors that collect data about farming operations. It is a data source that is currently being underused. Within the NIVA program nine European paying agencies are collaborating to explore possibilities for reuse of machine (and other) data. This challenge is about  ‘short data loops’, ‘smooth’ application processes, innovative reuse of machine data, and even data governance!

For this challenge we are looking for students who are familiar with mechatronics of agriculture, databases, and data connections (webservices) as well as for data governance experts.


Get to know the challengers and read more about the machine data mission in this blogpost


Breeding yields greater cumulative improvements in animal performance than any other activity within the entire production chain. At Hendrix Genetics they are always looking at the next generation. As farming is increasingly becoming digital, it means more data is available on both the phenotypes and the environment than ever before. For this challenge, a unique and unusually rich dataset is compiled to provide insight into this complex interaction.

The goal is to predict animal performance, which means predicting their phenotype before they are exposed to an environment (or a disturbance). For instance, when a heat wave occurs, are there laying hen families that have genes for maintaining production and withstanding the heat stress? Or is the relation between egg weight and feed type different for some families? Can we model how a phenotype depends on genetics and environment?

We are looking for aspiring data scientists, biologists, animal scientists and bioinformaticians who like to solve problems using complex datasets collected on real farms and animals.

Read more about Hendrix Genetics and the challenge in this blogpost


At Unilever food research we look for healthy natural flavours for our nutrition brands. The trend is towards vegan, to reduce the impact on the planet. Flavours that people appreciate and that can be produced from non-animal food ingredients often make use of an assembly of specific chemical reactions, collectively named as the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction brings the authentic colors, aromas and tastes resulting from familiair home cooking processes (boiling, grilling, roasting etc). The Maillard reaction has been widely researched in thousands of experiments in different conditions over the world, but despite all the research, the Maillard reaction remains unpredictable due to its complexity.

Although being unpredictable and not amenable for modelling, the huge amount of publications & patents with specific data on the Maillard reaction out in the open domain might give new insights and potential if efficiently processed (read, relevant data extracted and analysed). Will this hold clues to better modelling of the reaction? Can we make the future stock cube by taking stock of large volumes of the current literature on Maillard?

For this challenge our information specialists have compiled a subset of relevant literature.

Goal: Test if automated analysis of existing scientific literature, helps us better predict the outcome of Maillard experiments.

Can we create a model that predicts if a article or paragraph is relevant when looking for a specific outcome of the Maillard reaction? Can we automatically create an overview of all experimental conditions under which the Maillard reaction was tested and link these conditions to outcomes?


meet the challenger  and read more about it in this blog


We are looking for you!

This is your chance to develop your capacities and to work together with other bright minds. We explicitly invite students to take part in this hackathon. The organization ensures well-composed multidisciplinary teams. Each team will consist of:

  • representatives of the company (a software engineer and a business developer)
  • students / starters (from different disciplines)
  • researchers from the WUR (domain experts)
  • ‘FarmHackers’ (e.g. machine learning, open source expert, front-end developer, app developer, UX/UI designer)

The hackathon offers a unique opportunity to work with other tech savvy creatives, state of the art Life Sciences researchers, and experts from companies in your field. We offer a peer-to-peer learning environment and two days to test, develop, and hone your skills while working on real life issues. There will be prize money to allow the most promising teams to further develop their concept. And last but not least: it will be an amazing two days with good food & new friends at the WUR campus.

We are looking for highly motivated creative people that are looking for new and exciting learning opportunities. Participants should either have domain knowledge (life sciences) or data/IT skills. Individuals as well as groups can register.


Hackathons are a means to encourage collaboration and cooperation to help find innovative uses of data. They are competitions where multidisciplinary teams work on challenges to come up with data and tech driven solutions. In a short amount of time teams design, combine and implement smart and innovative data-driven hard- and software solutions. After two days of braincracking work, the teams can pitch the results (prototype app’s, visualizations, etc) to an honorary jury and get support for further development of the idea. 

The very first WUR Life Sciences hackathon is an initiative from several WUR Bachelor and Master programmes, like Biosystems Engineering and Wageningen Data Competence Center. Different partners support the initiative, such as DataLab Agrifood, Jheronimus Academy for Data Science and Food Valley’s ICT campus. The hackathon will be prepared and executed by FarmHack.NL.

Furthermore, the hackathon is powered by the following companies, Lely, Rovecom, RVO, Hendrix Genetics , and Unilever.

The hackathon will be part of the pan European Smart Agri Hubs Program, unleashing the innovation potential for the digital transformation of the European Agrifood Sector.


The program

day 1

After good mornings and coffees (9:00) at the campus of Wageningen University, we will start the hackathon with pitches by the challengers, to present the challenges and supporting data. 


After ideation and team formation, the rest of the day offers dedicated hack time, only interrupted in the late afternoon by an inspirational talk -by Arthur Mol-, and intervision through midterm pitches. For refreshing ideas and blood circulation Starthub gives us a short tour just before dinner.


During dinner there will be room for some pleasant wining & dining, during which we’ll have plenty of time to interact, and get some valuable feedback. After dinner we’ll be moonlight hacking. If you are feeling sleepy, we will feed you caffeine. When caffeine doesn’t do the trick anymore, you can roll out you sleeping matras in the University (or you can try to find a better place in Wageningen yourself).


more details

day 2

After an early breakfast we’ll start with pitches and intervision to kickstart your day. After that there is more hack time. Lunch will be on the go, especially for teams still coding their way to their set end point. 


In the afternoon all teams will present their proof of concept, prototype or mock up to a jury  of esteemed partners and experts. After a short deliberation, the pitches are followed by an award ceremony. And eternal glory for some. End time around 14:30.


more details



foto nutreco biggen