Garage48 Defence for Ukraine

When 17-19 February 2023

Where Tartu, Estonia

  • Overview
  • Agenda
  • Get Ready
  • Topic Areas

    Due to the high interest in this year's Defence makeathon, we've had to close the registration early, to assure a productive prototyping and working environment for all participants.

    We'll be sending all the participants a confirmation letter ASAP.

    While Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine has been going on for more than eight years, it’s now been almost a year since the start of Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine. This is the largest war in Europe since WWII, bringing along serious global consequences like food shortages, an energy crisis, the destabilisation of Europe’s security, and most of all a looming threat of nuclear war. It is now more important than ever to do our part to increase Ukraine’s sovereignty and return stability to Europe.

    Garage48 Defence for Ukraine is a Makeathon focused on building real defence-related software and hardware solutions for Ukraine. The prototypes created at the makeathon have the potential to be implemented and to have a real impact on Ukraine's defence.


    In co-organisation with Garage48 and the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Garage48 Defence for Ukraine is taking place from the 17th to 19th of February in Tartu, Estonia.


    Developments in the defence sector are traditionally hindered and slowed by bureaucracy, regulations and legislature. Today, Ukraine needs novel, cost-efficient and quick-to-implement defence solutions, which is why it is imperative to bring together the fast-paced technology sector and the defence industry to advance cooperation and develop critical defence solutions.


    Garage48 Defence for Ukraine is the perfect place for Baltic and Scandinavian military and defence schools, tech companies, and the public defence sector to mix and mingle, share ideas & expertise and find new ways to cooperate and create much needed defence solutions. Let’s unite to help defend Ukraine and build a safe and stable future for all of Europe!


    We’re looking for defence-field experts, developers, designers (product designers, artists, architects, UI/UX etc), programmers (software, robotics, etc.), hardware specialists and engineers (mechanics, electronics, 3D printing etc), students, team leaders, visionaries and business minds.

    Due to limited space and a need for pre-prepared materials, there will be a selection process for participation. We will prioritise team applications over individuals to ensure efficient use of resources.

    Additionally, due to the sensitive topic of the event, all registered participants must consent to a mandatory background check.

    🧑 GUESTS

    If you like to come and see the opening and/or the finals of the Garage48 Defence for Ukraine 2023 makeathon in Tartu then please make sure to register here -

    PS! Everyone needs to go through a background check. Guests, who are not registered prior can not come to the makeathon.


    1. Think of a problem or an idea you would like to tackle. Register and tell us what materials you need to make a working prototype.
    2. At the beginning of the makeathon we will form teams around the best ideas - don’t worry if you don’t have an idea, you are more than welcome to participate in the hackathon by working on someone else’s idea! A minimum of 3-4 team members will be needed to enter the makeathon. Team formation will happen on Friday evening on the spot.
    3. During the 48 hours, you will work with your team and with the mentors to build a working prototype by the end of the hackathon and present it to the jury!
    4. All the finished prototypes will be evaluated and the best teams will receive prizes that help develop their ideas even further!

    🎯 FOCUS

    We are looking for both hardware and software solutions in the defence industry that could help to tackle defence challenges in Ukraine.

    We’re continuously developing the focus topics together with organisations and experts working in the defence industry. More detailed information about the topic areas is coming soon.

    🏆 PRIZES

     🥇I place - €15,000
     🥈II place - €10,000
     🥉III place - €5,000


    11 January - registration opens

    3 February - registration deadline for ideas and for letting us know about your material needs

    10 February - registration deadline for individuals

    12 February - confirmation email sent to all participants who pass the background check

    17 - 19 February - Garage48 Defence for Ukraine 2023 Makeathon. 48 hours of teamwork, mentoring, and prototyping!


    Register for the event:

    Join the Facebook event for updates:

    Questions? Email us:

    NB! We will provide you with the materials needed to build your solution. To ensure we have all the required materials ready, the registration deadline for ideas and for letting us know about the materials needed is two weeks before the makeathon, on February 3rd.

    This event is brought to life with the support of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications of Estonia.

    Unite, innovate & protect millions!

    🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦Слава Україні!🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦


    Friday, 17 February

    17:30 - Check-in and snacks

    18:15 - Opening

    18:45 - Pitching ideas in 90”

    21:00 - Team formation

    21:30 - Dinner

    22:00 - Teamwork begins

    Saturday, 18 February

    9:00 - Breakfast

    10:00 - Checkpoint #1

    11:00 - Mentoring starts

    13:00 - Lunch

    18:00 - Pitch drill ABC

    18:30 - Checkpoint #2

    19:30 - Dinner  

    20:00 - Teamwork continues

    Sunday, 19 February

    9:00 - Breakfast

    10:00 - Checkpoint #3

    11:00 - Pitch drill session #1

    13:00 - Lunch

    14:00 - Pitch drill session #2

    16:00 - The finals

    18:00 - Refreshment break and the jury deliberates

    18:30 - Award ceremony

    NB! The schedule is tentative; changes are possible and likely to happen.

    Garage48 Defence for Ukraine will take place on 17-19 February 2023 in Tartu, Estonia. As this is a makeathon and the topic area is sensitive, we require a bit more preparation from participants than if you were joining us for a classic hackathon. Here’s everything you need to know to get ready and use your time effectively at the event.

    At the makeathon, you can work on both software and hardware solutions - as long as the emphasis is on defending Ukraine. We will provide you with everything you need to build your prototype, including materials and expertise. To keep energy levels high, we’ll provide meals, snacks, water and hot drinks.


    Due to the nature of the hackathon and limited space, we can’t accommodate all the ideas and will have to make a selection of the best and most relevant ideas. Secondly, as this is a defence-oriented event and is centred around sensitive material, all registered participants have to agree to a background check.

    Usually, around 15, ideas will get a “green light” to participate at the makeathon and the team sizes vary from a minimum of 3-4 to a maximum of 7 people and should be “balanced” to cover different skill sets as team lead, marketing, designer, field experts, engineers etc. As the makeathon requires pre-bought materials and equipment, premade teams with an idea will be priorities to be chosen to participate in the makeathon. All the individuals without the idea can join the exciting teams on Friday when they pitch. We strongly recommend that individual idea owners gather most of your team with adequate skillsets prior to the event.


    To ensure we have all the materials you need ready in time, it’s important you let us know exactly what you need in the registration form. For example, 3D printers, magnets, small drones, wiring, batteries or other things we can’t even think of?

    The deadline for material requests is February 3rd to ensure we have enough time to shop for everything. In case you forget to mention something in the registration form, let us know via email at



    Positive attitude, an open mind and lots of energy! Also, everything you need for rapid product development. We will have equipment and materials on-site, but to be sure, we recommend you bring your own stuff as well. You never know when you need something yourself or if you could help out another team. Sharing is caring :)

    Prior coming to the makeathon please think throught your idea and what will happen with your prototype after the finals on Sunday. All the teams need to take their prototype either with them or find a adequate placement for it. It is not allowed to leave the prototype to the venue. The team are more than welcome to take it home and continue working on it. This does not apply, though, to more expensive things or materials belonging onsite, ie you cannot take an oscilloscope with you or a set of tweezers etc.

    But like with any other hackathon and makeathon, please take your:

    • laptop (please make sure to have at least one per team, even if it is solely physical prototype you are working on)

    • 3-5m power extension cord (as power might be at a distance),

    • mobile phone

    • all chargers

    • if you have your own tools, feel free to bring them along

    • any materials that are needed for you to build in case you already have some stuff


    We will provide some floor room at the venue for accommodation - so take your mattress and sleeping bag with you. There's also a sauna, so you might want to get your sauna equipment (ok, a towel should be enough)!

    The doors will open at 17.30 on Friday. Please come on time, as the registration process might take some time - use it to get to know the crowd and to network. See the agenda for further information. And bring your ID/Passport with you!


    Consider the following key points and try to cover it all within 90 seconds. Practice, so you feel more confident:)

    • Tell us who you are, what’s your background . Who is in the team? (10sec)

    • Name of the Idea (5 sec)

    • What is the problem? Who does the problem affect? (20 sec)

    • What is your solution? (30 sec)

    • What are you going to build during the weekend? (20 sec)

    • Who do you need in your team? (5 sec)

    If you want to show a slide (just one!) in the background while you pitch, please send it latest 16.02.23 by 9 pm to


    Usually, around 15 ideas will get a “green light” to participate in the makeathon. A team has to consist of at least 3-4 members, who cover all the skills needed to develop and build the initial idea into a prototype by the end of 48 hours. The maximum team size is 7.

    Final team formation will take place Friday evening at the beginning of the makeathon. Everyone with an idea has to pitch, even if you come with a pre-formed team. This will give our mentors insight into what you’ll be working on during the event and they’ll be able to give you some insight if they see you’re missing a vital skill. Individual participants without an idea can join a team whose idea they relate to the most and where their skills are needed.

    If you have an idea but don’t have a team yet, we strongly recommend gathering people with adequate skills prior to registration. As organizing a makeathon requires planning and pre-bought materials, tools and machinery, pre-made teams with an idea will be prioritized over individual participants with an idea.

    PS! Everyone attending the event must register and go through the mandatory background check. If the team is complete, a team lead should submit a registration form on behalf of everyone.


    After team formation, organisers will assign a dedicated room/space for each team. We recommend you start working straight away by agreeing on a common vision for the final prototype and dividing roles. Decide on your team’s project manager (team lead), whose task is to keep the team's focus - one eye on the clock and the other on the team's progress. 48 hours is a short time.


    We provide breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday and Sunday so you could focus on work and building your product. There will also be snacks and drinks available 24/7.


    There are two separate rooms for the boys and girls to sleep in.

    We do not have beds, but you are welcome to spend the night there if you don't mind the ascetic conditions. There are also showers so you can start the morning fresh.

    👨‍💼 MENTORS

    We have brought together mentors from diverse backgrounds to assist you throughout the weekend. The mentors’ skill sets include a variety of topics, including defence, military, technical, business, product design, etc.

    Please wear your name badge throughout the whole event, as it helps the mentors to find you.

    We’re welcoming software and hardware solutions at Garage48 Defence for Ukraine. You’re welcome to submit any defence-related idea that’s targeted towards helping Ukraine defend their country. To help guide you, we’ve gathered input from companies and individuals currently working in or with the Ukrainian defence sector.

    When coming up with an idea, we encourage you to also think about how to ensure deployment in Ukraine.     

    📌 For software solutions, Wayren is offering an opportunity to integrate prototypes with their communication platform that digitises units on the battlefield in a safe and reliable way. Their platform creates a scalable tactical network from soldier to headquarters using widely available equipment and is easily interfaced with tactical systems. To be able to do so, they will provide an API with examples and an option to test integrations during the event. Additionally, they recommend implementing the application user interface using the freely available TAK application. Their mentors will be there onsite to help you.

    These are the biggest challenges that need to be addressed:

    🚁 UAVs

    Currently, the biggest challenge related to UAVs is their short lifespan. On average, a drone’s lifespan on the battlefield is just three flights due to jamming communications and/or navigation. How could we make them more efficient?

    Some vital topic areas you could focus on:

    Commercial drones usually operate in 2.4GHz or 5.8GHz, which are easily interrupted by Russians. For example, solutions can include finding innovative ways to integrate Open.HD, multi-frequency or creating a mesh to share communications between drones.

    GPS free navigation

    When a drone’s communications are jammed, they usually hover in one place until its battery dies. We need a better drone rescue system to help it get out of the affected area, for example using an inertia system or machine vision. Current solutions use a compass to guide it back towards the pilot, but these are still inaccurate, easily affected by weather and it’s difficult to know how far it has flown.

    3D printing / mass production
    3D printing is already used to print drone parts. Most printers use PLA, but there are already plenty of efficient metal printers also available. How could we use existing technology to make 3D-printed drones more efficient and how could we expand the tech to other defence sectors and/or increase the capacity to mass produce drones and other defence tech?

    🗺 Logistics

    Logistics is undoubtedly one of the most important challenges in any war situation. It’s vital to move supplies and people from point A to B in the fastest and safest way possible despite rapid changes/developments. This can either make or break plans.

    Some areas of logistics that require solutions:
    Battlefield needs
    Needs on the battlefield can change in seconds, requiring fast assistance or additional supplies. How can we supply battlefronts with food, water, ammunition, people etc efficiently without being detected? Or vice versa - for example, how can injured people be transported to a medical point as swiftly as possible? Additionally, you can think about tech solutions that help identify needs on the battlefront without the need for someone to radio back.

    Nighttime logistics
    When moving at night, vehicles cannot use their lights as this will easily give away their position. We’re looking for different solutions that connect cars driving in a column at night, so they could communicate parking, braking, navigation and manoeuvring needs without having to use their lights to do so.  

    Repurposing vehicles
    Civilian cars, vans and other vehicles are actively repurposed for battle needs. Many of these come from volunteers in other countries. While they may be painted in camouflage, they often lack special gear to make them bulletproof and suitable for rocky terrains. What are simple yet effective solutions to make these vehicles last longer?

    It’s immensely important that information moves fast, to the right people in the right format. The internet, phones and radios are great tools, but how to connect with the network without revealing your location? Currently, encryption is used but think of innovative ways that make staying connected easier while still keeping sensitive info secret.

    🏘 Critical Infrastructure

    We hear about attacks on critical infrastructure, especially power grids too often. For the aggressor, energy grids, network towers, transportation hubs, emergency/medical services etc are easy targets. Attacking even one affects entire regions of people. Let’s take away their opportunity to do so.

    The main sub-topics that you could work on are:

    Energy resilience

    How can we ensure energy to keep base stations covered and operations running at all times? Think of ad hoc distribution schemes and alternatives to generators that can increase energy resilience at all times.


    Air defence is the most effective way to protect current infrastructure. Is there something that could be improved here or a different way of defending these attacks?


    If the critical infrastructure has been hit, how can we get them working again as fast as possible? Perhaps some AI or other tech solutions can be deployed to rebuild where people can’t reach.

    🪖 Trenches

    Every time troops move to a new location, new trenches have to be dug. This is done manually, which takes a lot of time and effort, especially in winter when the ground is frozen. We welcome solutions that help soldiers dig troops - this can be either using robotics or developing tools that could make this easier.

    👤  Identification Friend or Foe (IFF)

    IFF systems are already very advanced and accurately tag friendly and hostile bodies. However, solutions for nighttime warfare as still a challenge. In the darkness, we mostly rely on infrared cameras, tags and flags, which aren’t always easy to identify in more difficult weather conditions. Innovative solutions in this field are more than welcome - both from a software and hardware perspective.

    🚑 Medical Solutions

    When submitting an idea related to the medical industry, keep in mind that the industry is understandably highly regulated and the road to market is extremely long. Nevertheless, it’s an important topic and areas that you could focus on are:

    After trauma, vitals need to be measured frequently and these are reported manually in medical records. (Semi-)autonomous sensors are more than welcome that could measure a person’s body temperature, blood pressure, respiration rate and other vitals. You can also think about how to integrate sensors into a digital logbook.

    Field hospitals
    Innovative solutions for pop-up field hospitals have been transported to Ukraine since the beginning of the war. What else could be done to treat patients and give them better access to field hospitals?

    Prewarming of intravenous fluids
    Giving patients cold IV fluids can be deadly. We’re looking for tech and physical solutions that can quickly warm the substances or sensors to regulate the temperature.

    The Mentors 

    Jaanus Sakkis
    Creative Director and Founder at Feks Design
    Martin Verrev
    Creative Engineer at Littlebit and lecturer at TalTech
    Calum Cameron
    CEO of DP Innovation Labs and Edasi Labs
    Tarmo Aia
    Chief Product Officer and Military Comms Systems Expert
    Rokas Tamošiūnas
    Serial Tech Startups Investor and Partner at Open Circle Capital
    Henry Härm
    CEO & Co-Founder of Wayren and AI Software Engineer at TalTech
    Orm-Gregori Joost
    Technical Sales Manager at Rothoblaas in Estonia
    Martin Grüner
    CTO, Tech Entrepreneur and Co-founder at Aplefly Games
    Kirils Solovjovs
    IT security expert and lead researcher at Possible Security
    Vitalli Lakusta
    CTO and Co-founder at
    Andres Moks
    UAVs Expert & Project Manager at the Estonian Aviation Academy
    Remo Ojaste
    Former Estonian Special Forces & Practical Leadership Coach
    Uko Valtenberg
    CISO at Nortal AS & Volunteer at the Cyber Defence Unit of the EDL
    Priit Salumaa
    CEO & Founder at Better Medicine
    Kristjan Pihus
    CTO at DefSecIntel Solutions
    Karl-Eerik Unt
    Head of Aeronautical Engineering at the Estonian Aviation Academy
    Juris Klava
    Product Development and Prototyping Expert
    Indrek Rebane
    CTO at Hedgehog Electronics Engineering
    Aivars Vaivods
    Embedded Software Developer


    Noora Ustav
    Project Manager at Garage48
    Jana Saastamoinen
    Project Manager at Garage48
    Aleksander Väär
    Marketing Manager at Garage48