Netwerk Brandweer

Powered by VIAS and EYnovation™

Oct 17, 2019
EY Wavespace, Antwerp

Oct 18, 2019
Campus Vesta, Ranst


Do you have what it takes to futureproof the Fire Deparment of Flanders?

Netwerk Brandweer, together with Vias Institute and EY organize the Firestarter Hackathon on the 17th of October.

“Toekomstvisie Brandweer 2030” is a program of the Belgian fire departments, looking at emerging technologies and innovations, and how these can be applied to benefit citizens across the country. The purpose of the hackathon is to future-proof the fire department and prepare them for the day after tomorrow.

During 24 hours teams of start-ups, scaleups, corporates and students will have the opportunity to collaborate and create digital and innovative solutions relevant for the Fire Department. A diverse and dedicated team of experts and coaches will assist you during the process. After the hacking, you will have to present your suggestion to a mixed jury of experts.



Smart Buildings

How can we use SMART technology in buildings to our advantage to help the Fire Department in fire detection and prevention?

Smart Mobility​

How can the fire brigade efficiently deal with new challenges in mobility?

Smart Fire Service

How can emerging technologies assist the firefighter in carrying out their job on-site?



Thursday 17/10/19 (EY Wavespace, Antwerp)

Registration and Welcome + Breakfast at EY Wavespace Antwerp
07:00 – 08:00

Kick-off hackathon: Formation of the teams and allocated spaces
08:00 – 09:00

09:00 – 12:00

12.00 – 13.00

1:1 Coaching by experts
13.00 – 18.00

18.00 – 19.00

Continue hacking + prepare small pitch
19.00 – 20.00

Present ideas to a panel of coaches
20.00 – 22.00

Hack and finalization of project
22.00 – 00.00

Friday 18/10/19 (Campus Vesta, Ranst)

07:00 – 08:00

Pitch ideas in front of jury
08:30 – 10:30  

Feedback and finalist selection
10:30 – 11:30  

Winning teams present their solution at Back2The Future Brandweercongres + award ceremony
11.30 – 12.00

Participants have the opportunity to present their findings at the networking event afterwards
14.00 – 18.00



Organizing partners

Netwerk Brandweer: Netwerk Brandweer represents the 20 Fire Regions of Flanders, Belgium. Netwerk Brandweer founded the Future Academy to bring future proof firefighters together!

Vias institute: Vias institute is a knowledge centre that aims to reduce societal risks through sustainable behavioural change. We have been working for more than 30 years in the field of road safety. As from now, our expertise will be extended to the domains of mobility, security and health care. Vias institute carries out research, gives advice, develops innovative technologies and gives trainings. Our stakeholders and customers are citizens, policy makers, public authorities and companies, both nationally and internationally.

EY: At EY, we are committed to building a better working world — with increased trust and confidence in business, sustainable growth, development of talent in all its forms, and greater collaboration. We want to build a better working world through our own actions and by engaging with like-minded organizations and individuals. This is our purpose — and why we exist as an organization.

Gold partners

Silver partners

Bronze partners



People: 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. 

Bert Brugghemans – Commander Firefighting Department Antwerp

Hans Jacobs – Firefighter Department Rand
Expertise: Urgent medical care, wellbeing and rescues using ropes

Tim Bogaert – Voluntary firefighter at Zone Oost & Software Architect as full time employment

Rob Lemkens – Officer at Rescue Area Noord Limburg, resonsible for ICT
Expertise: ICT

Tom Van Hemeldonck – Officer at Rescue Area Taxandria
Expertise: Intervention & trainings

Bruno Wattenbergh – Chairman of EY Innovation Board
Expertise: Strategy & Entrepreneurship, business model innovation, pitching

Jan De Clippeleer – EY Executive Director and Innovation Enabler.
Expertise: Strategy and Business Model Innovation

Johnny Waterschoot – EY Senior Manager and Innovation Enabler.
Expertise: Focus on high tech, VC and startup markets, in marketing, projects management and innovation.

Arne Dormaels – Director Safety & Security Vias institute.
Expertise: Turning security challenges into opportunities for industry and knowledge. Translate innovations into recommendations for the government.

Dagmara Wrezsinska – Project Manager in Mobility at Vias Institute.
Expertise: Strategy and Business Model Innovation

Thomas Tomme – Zone Fluvia
Expertise: shaping future strategy, service design, merging assets, organization, mobility, fleet services and policies towards better and more efficient fleet management and business support

People: Jury

John Baekelmans – Vice President & Managing Director for imec in the Netherlands.

As Managing Director, he is responsible for the overall NL business and operations. Next to his Imec NL role he leads the Internet of Things and Connected Health Solutions teams and is responsible for the Smart City vertical across imec globally. On top of this he has twenty-five years of experience as a firefighter of which twenty as an officer.

Pieter Colpaert – Postdoctoral researcher at IDLab – Ghent University – imec.

Cofounded a nonprofit organisation to promote Open Knowledge in Belgium. Most projects in the e-gov domain, smart cities, administrative simplification and concerning Open Data in general. The first “chief technology” of Smart Flanders.

Karel Vanderkerken – Experienced Head Of Service with a demonstrated history of working in the public safety industry. Skilled in Operations Management, Project management, Service-Level Agreements (SLA), IT Strategy, Data Center Architecture, and Lean Six Sigma. Strong information technology professional graduated from Fire Fighter Academy. In depth knowledge of data transmission technology.

Olivier Van Raemdonck – Spokesman of the Flemish Prime Minister.






A hackathon is a method of creative problem solving. It is a time-boxed activity – limited to 24 hours in this case, where a number of specific challenges can be addressed by ther 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 morning, 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 4th of October – we’ll have a take-in day where we’ll discuss challenges, in collaboration with the dream team of the fire department. We ask participants however, not to work on the actual project before the take-off on the 17th of October. 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 fire department.

Not necessarily, the challenges are to find innovative solutions to support the firefighter of the future, 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.


Day 1: EY Wavespace – Download instructions

Day 2: Campus Vesta, Oostmalsesteenweg 75, 2520 Ranst – Website

Apart from the opportunity to network with other start-ups and industry experts you will have access to EY’s Wavespace facilities. Furthermore, Meals and refreshments in the EY wavespace are provided as part of the hackathon.




Pitch in front of industry decision-makers at the Back2TheFuture annual conference (18/10)

Winners of the challenges present their MVP at the Back2theFuture annual conference 18th October in front of experts and industry decision-makers.

Pitch @ International Safety Education Seminar (19/11)

The overall winner will be invited to present their fine-tuned product @ ISES conference 19th of November in front of an international audience. The International Safety Education Seminar brings together attendees from different countries who will gather to exchange experiences concerning fire safety awareness.

Media Exposure

Footage will be recorded during the hackathon and the pitching at the conference. After editing, these videos will be shared on social media.