Hosted by: MIT Innovation Initiative

The Vatican Hack will be a collaborative two-day event, gathering creative, young minds from diverse backgrounds to work together across disciplines, regardless of their faith, convictions and education, to come up with innovative solutions within selected problem areas.

Presented by the OPTIC society, with the support of Lateran University, the Vatican Hack is inviting 20 universities from around the world to take part in the first-ever hackathon organized at the Holy City and under the auspices of the highest institutions of the Holy See.

Participants will be challenged to solve problems in four thematic areas:

  • Social Inclusion: Encouraging true solidarity, to overcome the ’culture of waste’, and restore a human-centric approach, in our techno-economic systems.
  • Compassion: Foster the recognition that people and society require greater compassion and humility, which places a high priority on the intrinsic value of people.
  • Interreligious Dialogue: Support full and forthright presentation of respective convictions and address common issues that impact mutual esteem, cooperation and indeed friendship.
  • Migrants & Refugees: Strengthen support and mobilize resources for the migrants and refugees, support them on their paths to settling down and living a normal life, foster dialogue and cooperation between the hosting societies and the migrants.

The MIT Innovation Initiative is hosting this unique opportunity for five MIT students to travel to Rome, Italy on March 9–11, 2018 to participate in the hackathon that will leverage technology and innovation to create solutions that will help the world. We are seeking to form a diverse team comprised of software engineering majors, design majors, business majors, and others.

The best ideas from the hackathon will be awarded prizes and offered long-term professional support to ensure their success and future impact.

*All expenses for travel and accommodations will be covered by the Vatican Hack and the MIT Innovation Initiative (excluding personal expenses).

The deadline to apply is November 30, 2017

Rules & Eligibility

  • You must be a full-time student enrolled in a degree-bearing undergraduate or graduate program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • In order to be considered, you must fill out an application by Thursday, November 30, 2017. You must include a pitch video as part of your application or you will not be considered. If selected to move on to round two, you must participate in a brief Skype interview with the selection committee in order to be considered.
  • The Vatican Hack will take place at the Vatican in Rome, Italy. If selected, you must be able and willing to travel internationally during March 9–11, 2018 (all expenses will be covered, excluding personal expenses).

Team Creation and Pitching

In order to create a successful and diverse team, students must include a 1.5 minute pitch video as part of their application. Students should spend 30 seconds identifying a key issue from one of the four problem areas identified by the Vatican and one minute pitching an idea for a solution. This will help determine those who have a real interest, will demonstrate their commitment to being on the team, and display their ability to creatively problem-solve. If selected, students will move on to round two, which includes a brief Skype interview with the selection committee.

Selection Criteria

The members of the team for the Vatican Hack will be selected by a committee made up of MIT Innovation Initiative staff and faculty.

Diversity: The set up of the proposed team encourages diversity to bolster the problem-solving power of the teams and the sustainability of the ventures. The MIT team, like all the teams, must have the following:

  • 2 Engineering Students
  • 1  Design Student
  • 1 Business Student
  • 1 Student of any Unspecified Major

In addition, the Vatican has strongly encouraged that teams have “diversity across backgrounds and faith.”

Demonstrated interest in the hackathon problem areas: Students should also demonstrate a commitment to the project and to the goals of the hackathon. The pitch video will be a key indicator of students’ understanding and interest in the problem areas, as well as their ability to creatively problem-solve for key issues.

Ability to work well with others: Students should be able to work successfully with others on a small team with members from diverse backgrounds. The team will not know what their assignment for the hackathon will be until the day of. This means that the group will need to work together quickly and effectively to create an innovative solution without any prior knowledge of the problem.


March 9–11, 2018
The Vatican | Rome, Italy

All expenses for travel and accommodations will be covered by the Vatican Hack and the MIT Innovation Initiative (excluding personal expenses).

Join the MIT student team at the Vatican Hack! The deadline to apply is November, 30, 2017. 

Questions? Contact Laura Halligan, Senior Program Coordinator, at laurahal@mit.edu.