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Introducing… Hackathons

Tags: News

Are you looking for some inspiration to design and plan your own Hackathon?

Born out of the US high-tech culture of the late 1990s, Hackathons (sometimes called hackfests, hackdays, or codefests) have gone mainstream; now emerging as a collaborative tool used by a variety of organisations to promote innovation and creativity, not least here in Wales.

Here we explore some examples of how hackathons have been used by stakeholders from across business, academia and government in the last 12 months 

Introducing…  Hackathons

2017 Sports Innovation (SPIN) Hackathon – Hype Foundation and Cardiff University

To mark the UEFA Champions League Final in June, Cardiff University worked in partnership with HYPE (a foundation for connecting and investing in sports innovation) to host the 2017 HYPE Foundation SPIN Final – an event which saw ten global start-ups descend upon the capital to pitch their ideas to leading figures from sports and tech brands, investors and a panel of high-ranking judges including:

•    Bernd Wahler, Ex-Adidas CMO and VfB Stuttgart President (Head of Jury)
•    Professor Laura McAllister, Wales Governance Centre, Cardiff University
•    Guy Laurent Epstein, Marketing Director, UEFA
•    Jamie Heywood, Amazon
•    Ignacio Mestre, CEO, FC Barcelona Foundation
•    Stefan Wagner, SAP
•    Professor James Skinner, Loughborough University.

A Sports Innovation (SPIN) hackathon preceded the event, giving students the opportunity to develop their own ideas for ‘the beautiful game’ and advance solutions within the Sports Innovation space.

"Innovation plays a huge role in sport. Football technology is constantly evolving, from the introduction of goal line technology and artificial pitches to the development of 3D printed football boots. This event [gave] our students a chance to pitch their ideas to a remarkable panel of international judges.”

Professor Hywel Thomas, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Engagement at Cardiff University

You can watch the HYPE/Cardiff University SPIN Hackathon video here 

2017 Welsh Health Hack

Developed in collaboration with the Welsh Government, Bevan Commission, & ABCi (Aneurin Bevan Continuous Improvement), the Wales Deanery hosted the inaugural Welsh Health Hack at the Life Sciences Hub, Cardiff, in March.

Over two days, 100 trainees and other health professionals came together with developers, designers, and industry figures from across Wales to shape the future of health tech advances.

A total of 20 ideas were pitched to a panel of experts, including: Welsh Government’s health innovation lead Ifan Evans; the Bevan Commission’s deputy director Christopher Martin; the NHS Wales Information Service’s (NWIS) medical director Rhidian Hurle; the Wales Deanery Sub-Dean Ian Collings; and Elidir Health’s CEO Dyfan Searell.

Successful pitches included an app providing contraceptive advice for new mothers and an app enabling patients to record key medical data from home. Two platforms won support for their innovative use of data, one designed to improve the scheduling of dialysis appointments and the other to predict which patients are at risk of missing their appointments.

The ideas are all in the preliminary stages of development, and will each be given access to up to £7,500 of Welsh Government and Bevan Commission funding to support the development of initial prototypes.

“The Welsh Health Hack was developed to connect the ‘hack day’ concept, which provides a melting pot of ideas, to the traditional innovation and funding structures currently available for more mature projects. Our hope is that by linking these two we can empower those on the frontline delivering healthcare in Wales to believe that if they have a great idea, that they can make it happen”.

Dafydd Loughran, Welsh Health Hack project lead & Clinical Leadership Fellow.

Check out the @waleshack twitter feed to explore how the teams got on and for more inspiration on running your own hackathon.

Senedd Lab 2017: Creating a Digital Future for Welsh Politics

In March, the National Assembly for Wales’ Digital News and Information Taskforce hosted Senedd Lab - its first hack day to explore how digital innovation could improve the way the Assembly engages with the public.

The free 24 hour event brought together designers, coders and digital specialists to dig deep into its services, content and data, and unlock new ways that it could be used to connect with the people of Wales.

Senedd Lab began informally in the Pierhead on a Friday night for attendees to pitch challenges and form teams. On the second day each group worked on their projects inside the Senedd.

The winning idea started out as a "democracy dashboard", led by the team at Big Lemon Creative. You can read more about their experience here.

NHS Hack Days

Cardiff is a regular location on the NHS Hack Day circuit.

NHS Hack Days bring together anyone with any interest in healthcare technology (healthcare professionals, patients and their relatives, representatives from charities) to create usable software to improve NHS technology and services. 

Held over three or four weekends a year at various locations across the UK, groups form organically and take part in collaborative brainstorming, formulate ideas; and pitch to a panel of judges. Prizes, such as cash, tablets and textbooks are offered to incentive innovation.

You can find out more about NHS Hack Day and sign up for the 2018 Cardiff NHS Hack Day (to be held in January) here

Cardiff NHS HackDay 2015 

Inside the Manchester NHS Hackday 2017 

2017 Hackathon - Protecting Personal Data – Swansea University and Fujitsu

In March, Swansea University held a 24 Hour enterprise hackathon in conjunction with Fujitsu to promote enterprise and innovation. 26 students were put into teams, each with a Fujitsu mentor on hand to help them solve a data protection problem in regards to wearable technology.

Each student got to take home a wearable of their choice as well as a Fujitsu employability badge for their CVs.

Check out how the teams got on here


Hackathon Toolkit
If you’re looking for the ultimate blueprint to design your Hackathon, the ‘MIT Hacking Medicine Handbook’ provides a comprehensive guide to the essentials.

Want to know what happens at an MIT Hackathon? 
On a Saturday night in Cambridge, Boston, students can choose from any number of activities. At MIT, Hacking Arts—whose mission is to “ignite entrepreneurship and innovation within the creative arts”—is one of them. 

OVO Energy – Hackathon 3.0 ‘From Insight to Innovation’
Learn how this Bristol-based Energy Supplier uses 24 hour Hackathons to give its tech team the freedom to innovate.

Do you have experience of running a Hackathon? We’d love to hear from you and share your story with others from across the movement. Use the hashtag #BeTheSpark or share your story with us.