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The Crown Estate seeks inspiration from Gen Z to harness the power of AI to generate sustainable energy from the seabed


The Crown Estate has challenged a group of tech-savvy participants to pitch AI-powered software solutions that could help meet an ambition to generate 50% of the UK’s energy supply sustainably from the seabed by 2050.

The hackathon, organised on Saturday, 6th July in partnership with “AI first” education provider Inversity, saw over 50 passionate people pitch to a judging panel at The Crown Estate’s offices in London.

The expert judging panel included Sam Miller, Director of the Google DeepMind Impact Accelerator, Jess Furness, UK Director of Rewriting the Code, a non-profit focused on helping more women into tech, The Crown Estate’s Cheryl Avery, Head of Marine Operations, and Dr James Kuht, CEO of Inversity.

Some 14 teams participated on the day, with the majority made up of computer science A-level students aged 16-18 from Sixth Form Colleges around the country. Participants also included non-profit workers and military veterans seeking to transition to tech roles, alongside two Machine Learning PhD graduates from Imperial College London.

The winning participants, a team of students from Worcester Sixth Form College, were awarded a £1,000 cash prize for pitching a “visually stunning” app-based solution that provides information to the public about offshore developments in their locality. Top performing individuals from across the competition will also be offered internships in The Crown Estate within its Marine business and Digital department.

Cheryl Avery, Head of Operations for Marine at The Crown Estate said: We’ve come a long way since the first offshore wind turbines were installed almost 25 years ago, but as we look ahead, we need fresh, innovative approaches to the goal of meeting net zero that take into account a growing number of demands on our seabed. The hackathon is a key event on our journey to resolving this challenge while fostering diverse new generations of talent along the way.”

The Crown Estate’s Senior Director of Emerging Technology and Innovation, Aruj Haider, added: “Our hackathon showcased how emerging technology can revolutionise the UK’s energy system, supporting the mission to make it cleaner, cheaper, and more secure. We were inspired by the innovative proposals and are excited to bring more visionary young talent on board to shape a sustainable and thriving marine economy for the future.”

Dr James Kuht, CEO of Inversity, noted: “The hackathon allowed participants to apply their existing tech skillsets to a unique, sustainability focused challenge, set by The Crown Estate. Using their software and data science know-how, participating teams were able to develop engaging, scalable and implementable solutions to help solve a pressing environmental issue. I, for one, was wowed by the talent on display.

Jess Furness, UK Director of Rewriting the Code, noted: “It was brilliant to see the participants’ different thought processes, ways of using evidence, and how they came up with such engaging, scalable and implementable solutions which inspired excitement in The Crown Estate. Events like hackathons are a great way to introduce concepts around, and industry applications for, technology whether it's AI, UI, or UX.”