De Vlaamse Waterweg

Virtual Hackathon

November 26 & 27, 2020


Are you able to unlock the potential of Smart Shipping?

Within Flanders there is around 1000 km of navigable inland waterways on which more than 70 million ton is transported every year. Although this already gets a lot of trucks of the road, there is still a lot of capacity available that is underused which could improve the mobility and ecological transport issues in Flanders. One of the innovations that could realise this potential is Smart Shipping.

Smart shipping in inland navigation can be understood as both the optimised and standardized data sharing between barges, infrastructure, and waterway managers as the navigation with autonomous / automated barges. It is on this last element this hackathon is going to focus.

If we look towards the automatisation in other modi, and especially trucks, we see that different efforts are made to make everything fully autonomous. This trend stems from the fact that efficiency, gained from partly automated tasks, is limited compared to the extra risks. (f.e. attention deficit in semi-autonomous vehicles)

This is completely different with the inland waterway sector, and in extension the maritime, as an enormous economic potential can be achieved if one person could remotely control a vessel.

This will make inland navigation more cost-effective, which would results in a more competitive position with rail & road and further realise a modal shift.

Although this sounds promising and there are already different tests ongoing in Flanders and West-Europe, there are still some discussions and rough waters ahead. Nevertheless, we are looking forward to map these undiscovered waters.

Therefore De Vlaamse Waterweg and EY are challenging you to bring your talent to the table and together with our participants unlock the potential of Smart Shipping

This Hackathon is a FLOAT event and is supported by “Maritieme Toegang” and “Departement Mobiliteit en Openbare Werken”. 



How is an automated barge able to safely pass through a lock when no persons are present on the barge?

Which communication protocols should be implemented to enable safe navigation with automated and conventional barges?

How to enable corridor planning for both automated and conventional barges?

How should the government incorporate new technologies and organise their operations towards optimal traffic management?



The hackathon will be preceded by 3 pre-events: 

  1. November 5: Info session for mentors and coaches
  2. November 12: Info session for participants
  3. November 19: Presentation of the teams
Thursday 26/11/20

Start of the virtual hackathon

Plenary opening video conference

Teams start working on project Hacking

Continuous coaching and support by mentor via chat platform Workshops on Business Modelling & Pitching during the day

End first day of hacking

Plenary intermediary evening touchpoint

Mentors go offline until the next morning Teams are allowed to continue working on their projects

Friday 27/11/20

Kick-off day two

Plenary opening video conference

End of the hackathon

Teams submit their solutions

Judging & finalist selection

Jury (sector experts & business leaders) review the results
Winning teams are presented

Plenary video call with all participants
Award ceremony



Organizing partners




Coaches and experts

A dedicated team of coaches and industry experts will be assigned to you to support you during the process and ensure a good problem-solution fit. 

Tim Bauweraerts – Blue Line Logistic

Tim studied Rhine and inland navigation at Cenflumarin and has a specialization in limited coastal shipping. He has experience in tanker shipping and push-tow navigation. Tim worked for 5 years at ThyssenKrupp Veerhaven b.v., of which 2 years as a helmsman with training as captain / skipper. After this rich experience he started working as a skipper at WEVA-Shipping. Here, Tim sailed for 2 years with a large cargo ship (MCS Isabelle 135 x14.20) and a coupling (KVB Isabelle 1 & 2 172 x 11.40) on the Rhine. Tim has been working for Blue Line Logistics since 2019 and is contributing to the future of autonomous sailing.

Ingmar Christiaens  – EY

After selling his company to EY, Ingmar became Partner responsible for IT consulting. He is now focused on sustainable team growth, with a focused market offering for technology. When not at work or trying to raise his 2 kids, skiing and diving are his passions.

Joris De Smedt – EY

Joris is specialized in guiding public sector organizations in transforming their business to be ready for the future. Joris has 15 years of experience working for all layers of government. Working on major performance programs in Belgium and Europe, Joris has advised public executives on their policies and strategies, on large transformation programs and organizational change, on performance issues for local and federal administrations and EU organizations. As a coach Joris will challenge the participating teams on their ability to change the current business and operating models of the different stakeholders in the ecosystem of smart shipping.

Jan De Clippeleer – EY Executive Director and Innovation Enabler.

Jan is an Executive Director at EY Consulting and enthusiastic facilitator at EY wavespace Antwerp and advises companies with experience in business model innovation, funding, cooperation between start-ups and corporations. Jan is also an Innovation Enabler within EY The Factory. Jan worked for more than 30 years in the R&D, innovation and services departments of global technology companies in the publishing and printing industry and later in healthcare IT. He founded a few start-ups, was an independent innovation expert at SME-related jury committees and Entrepreneur in Residence in a global innovation hub.

Matthias Beckers – EY – Senior Consultant Strategy & Transformation Execution

When Matthias started working for De Vlaamse Waterweg, the innovation Smart Shipping was on a lot of companies radar, but the eventual impact was uncertain. Now, two years later, it is clear that this is the future of inland shipping and we can already identify what is still needed to make this a reality. He has been supporting De Vlaamse Waterweg for two years, researching the innovation and adjusting their role to accommodate this. Thanks to this project he is knowledgeable about the different types of smart shipping and the logistic problems this brings along.

Ine Van Den Dries – EY

For the past two years, Ine has been working closely with the Program Manager Smart Shipping of De Vlaamse Waterweg. Using her expertise in Program Management, she is keeping track of the roll-out of the four program pillars (Smart Vessels, Smart Infrastructure, Smart Data and Smart Legislation) and the supporting initiatives. More broadly, Ine is working as Senior advisor Process Optimization within the ports and shipping sector.

Jelle Jacobs – EY

Jelle works as an innovation consultant for EY The Factory, where he helps promising startups and scale-ups with their growth, financing and internationalization. Before EY, Jelle was active in the startup sector itself in Belgium and San Francisco. As a co-founder of Hack The Crisis Belgium he has also extensive experience in the organization of hackathons in different industries in Belgium and abroad.

Dieter Sauvage – Departement Mobiliteit en Openbare Werken

Policy advisor at the Department of Mobility and Public Works, Maritime Affairs and Airports Team, with a background in operational VTS.

Tom Aga – De Vlaamse Waterweg

Tom Aga lives in Antwerp, and has a “hands-on” mentality and a passion for shipping. As a member of a sailor’s family, he too heard the call of the sea. He was mainly on LNG carriers but also worked on a RoPax ferry and dredgers. Between the sailing contracts he also took on some positions at the tanker shipping company. After several years at sea, he sought calmer waters and opted for family life. Since February 2018, he has been working at the RIS center of De Vlaamse Waterweg (the information and calamity center). He has lived in Ghent for several years with his wife Sien and son Lars. He likes good food, traveling, reading and looking for the silence of nature.

Jan Gilissen – De Vlaamse Waterweg

Jan works as functional application manager for DVW, he’s responsible for the supporting IT systems used in traffic management on locks and bridges of DVW and the VisuRIS website were the information is shared with other parties.
He’s also project member in the RIS-CoMEX projectprojects which will facilitate corridormanagement on European corridors. He can help with questions on the availability of information and the current procedures between vessels and lock and bridge information.


Louis-Robert Cool – CEO Seafar

Louis-Robert Cool is CEO and founder of Seafar. Seafar is developing next generation ship management services, to accelerate smart shipping in the inland and short sea shipping sector. From a control center, Seafar manages and operates unmanned and crew-reduced vessels, with emphasis on effective and safe operations. Seafar is a front-runner in the development and operational integration of state of the art technologies for semi-autonomous and unmanned shipping.

Ann-Sofie Pauwelyn – Smart Shipping Project Manager

Ann-Sofie Pauwelyn is Smart Shipping Project Manager for the Flemish Inland Waterway Authority (de Vlaamse Waterweg nv). She is part of the team Innovation in Inland Navigation. She is the expert on autonomous and automated shipping inside the Flemish Government and represents Flanders in different international fora on the topic. Thanks to her and her team’s work Flanders is seen as a pioneer in Smart Shipping, being the first region in the world that allows tests with unmanned ships. Ann-Sofie is contact point for companies that wish to test their Smart Shipping innovation on the Flemish inland waterways.

More information about the jury coming soon!





A hackathon is a method of creative problem solving. It is a time-boxed activity – limited to 48 hours in this case, where a number of specific challenges can be addressed by the participating teams. The idea is to create usable software or hardware with the goal of demonstrating a functioning tangible prototype or product and a related business model by the end of the event. At the end of the hackathon, teams present their results to a panel of judges.

All participants have or may have pre-existing Intellectual Property Rights. This can be ideas, know-how, trade secrets, copyright in code, sometimes even a patent or an application, and brands, logos and similar stuff. This is called “Pre-Existing IP”.

All Pre-Existing IP remains owned by its owner, in addition, the fact of showing something that is covered by an IP right (say, showing some code that is covered by your software copyright) does not imply that anyone can copy that or use it freely without your approval – you retain your Pre-Existing IP on that.

Participants own the rights to their projects they create at the Hackathon. 

On Friday afternoon, after the hacking, you will have to present what you’ve built to a mixed jury of experts. You will have a couple of minutes to present your business plan, and demo your product/service/idea.

Before the hackathon event, on the 12th of November – we’ll have a take-in day where we’ll discuss challenges, in collaboration with the dream team of the water transportation department. We ask participants however, not to work on the actual project before the take-off on the 26th of November. However, it is advised to familiarize yourself and ask ample questions before the event to guarantee a smooth start.

Teams and challenges​

Sign up through the Eventbrite, assemble your team and sign up for a specific challenge that you and your team will address.

Startups, scale-ups, researchers, students are all welcome to attend. We are looking for multi-functional teams that will be able to create a tangible product or prototype by the end of the hackathon.

  • Subscribe individually: Students and Professionals
  • Subscribe as a group: Start-ups, scaleups and corporates

The more to the point, the better. You and your team will have 24 hours to come up with a solution to one of the challenges posed by the Vlaamse Waterwegen.

Not necessarily, the challenges are to find innovative solutions to support the Vlaamse Waterwegen, not necessarily through coding only.

Teams can be up to 5 people. If you want to hack alone, that’s totally fine. If you are still looking for a team, don’t worry, we will also help with matchmaking.




De Vlaamse Waterweg offers the winners: 

  • Stage time on the 2021 Symposium of de Vlaamse Waterweg nv
  • Presentation of the winning projects on international fora such as CCR, UNCTAD or Pianc.

Antwerp Management School offers the winners: 

  • IoT of Data Science development lab: a short-term mentorship track with experts from AMS and Jhieronymus Academy of Data Science, where the most advanced project using data science or IoT receives support through mentoring and access to physical and virtual lab facilities to take your IoT or data science solutions to the next level.
  • Big Score sessions: Win a guaranteed place on the long list of a big score session, exclusively for Smart Port start-ups and solutions. By being on the longlist on this track, organized by AMS and, you will have the chance to compete for one of the coveted pitch sessions for a specialized audience of smart port VCs and stakeholders.