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MIT Sloan Experts

30 track winners crowned in MIT Latin America vs. COVID-19 hackathon


With over 5,000 participant and mentor applications and more than 150 collaborating organizations, the final 30 track winners were selected on June 21 during the Latin America vs. COVID-19 hackathon. The event gathered approximately 1,400 participants and 300 mentors from 73 different countries (80% from Latin America) to work on solutions that have a meaningful impact in Latin America in the next three to six months.

In teams, the selected participants “hacked” answers to the following questions: What kind of support do Latin America’s health systems need? What actions can be taken to protect the most vulnerable? What tools can help prevent the spread of misinformation related to the crisis? What will it take to empower the informal economy in times of social distancing?

The winning teams will receive $300 USD per team, continued mentoring and $1,000 in Amazon Web Services (AWS) credits. In addition, teams that opt to form a startup based on their project will be eligible for the AWS Activate program, which includes $5,000 in AWS credits valid for 2 years, 1 year of AWS Business Support (up to $1,500) and 80 credits for self-paced labs.

Out of the 187 teams formed, 70 teams are continuing on with their projects and will receive the following support from the MIT COVID-19 Challenge:

  • Exclusive access to partner-driven events:
    • Amazon Web Services (AWS) will host an AWS Buildathon with qualifying teams that use AWS as part of their solution.
  • Direct matching with collaborators:
    • Teams will be matched with the collaborating organizations of interest and strategic alignment.
  • Marketing:
    • As of today, the MIT COVID-19 Challenge webpage will host all the solutions that were created during the event allowing external parties to engage with the teams directly.
  • Mentors:
    • All teams will have continued access to a curated group of mentor networks via Slack and other platforms.

This event was the first of the series focused on Latin America and was held in three languages: English, Spanish and Portuguese.

The MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) and the MIT Sloan Latin America Office sponsored this initiative.

Eduardo Rivera, Managing Director MISTI Chile/Peru/Argentina/Uruguay, says “For MISTI, the opportunity to work alongside other MIT departments and students in the hackathon was uniquely rewarding. The event represented, at its core, MIT’s mission to serve the world in the 21st century: a diverse international community collaborating to bring together ideas and passion towards addressing the most challenging issues in Latin America resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Friday evening, June 19 marked the kickoff to the event with an inaugural keynote by Roberto Rigobón, Society of Sloan Fellows Professor of Management and a Professor of Applied Economics at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and Patricia Villela Marino, Co-Founder and Vice President of Humanitas360 Brazil, philanthropist, activist, and entrepreneur, leveraging organizational expertise to catalyze positive change.

On Saturday, June 20, 187 teams were formed to work on their solutions for the 10 different tracks. They received the help and feedback of mentors from different fields and attended a session of “How to Pitch” from pitch coach David Beckett of Best 3 Minutes, to prepare for their final presentations on Sunday 21.

The event also had the participation of 35 judges, composed of industry experts and seasoned entrepreneurs in the topic of their respective Track. They attended the final presentations, where after they deliberated to pick three winners per track applying a standard judging criteria based on four key areas: Impact, Innovation, Implementation and Presentation.

“For this hackathon, I coordinated with our collaborators and was amazed by their eagerness to give their time and expertise to make this event happen” says Fiorella Penagos Celis, an event organizer and student from the MBA program at the MIT Sloan School of Management. “As the Track I Lead, I am proud of all the progress the teams made through the 48-hours, not letting the language or the virtual setting be a barrier and I am excited to keep helping the teams to develop their ideas further. Finally, as a Peruvian, I am really delighted of the event outcome; it shows that Latin America has the human capital to keep innovating.”

For more on Latin America vs. COVID-19 and for a list of all the teams and proposed solutions, please visit: