#AbujaAnswers, NYU’s Healthcare Hackathon and Crafting Solutions for the World Biggest’s Refugees Crisis
If hackathons make you think of sleepless techies subsisting on pizza and energy drinks for a weekend while they code the next unicorn app, you’re only partially correct. At a hackathon, individuals with technical backgrounds come together, form teams around a problem or idea and collaboratively code or design a unique solution from scratch over a 24-48 hour period. GroupMe, a group messaging app acquired by Skype for over $50 million and the Facebook ‘Like’ button are examples of ideas first demoed at internal company hackathons. Makerthons, similar to hackathons, bring diverse groups of people together, but focus on generating innovative ideas and long term solutions for community challenges.
Both concepts have expanded, bringing top social innovators from diverse industries and locations together to solve pressing global problems. Given shortcomings in formal education systems around the world, particularly emerging markets, Hackathons and Makerthons offer unique learning opportunities to develop home-grown solutions.
NYU School of Entrepreneurship partnered with Pfizer to host NYC’s first large scale Healthcare Makerthon
Our society is structured in a way that isolates people, their skills, knowledge and ideas into industry silos where only incremental innovation can occur. Hackathons and Makerthons bring people together from multiple industries to reimagine solutions.
For example, New York University partnered with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and medical device company Stryker to host a Healthcare Makerthon in November 2015. The event fused the School of Medicine and the Entrepreneurial Institute together to drive innovation and entrepreneurship in healthcare. The first phase of the event engaged experts in the healthcare system to identify the most pressing challenges that impact healthcare systems across America. Ten of those challenges became the basis of a two-day ‘Makerthon’ weekend. Over 100 engineers, software developers, designers, business students, clinicians joined forces to prototype solutions to the identified challenges. Four winning teams receive $2,500 to bring their ventures to the market
Why every business should run hackathons
Forbes recently published an article titled ‘Why Every Business Should Run Internal Hackathons’, explaining the benefits and necessity of hands-on, consumer-focused learning. According to McKinsey, ‘hackathons can be adapted to greatly accelerate the process of digital transformation…hacking away at old processes and ways of working’. As opposed to workshop-ing, where ideas are born, hacking and making delivers prototypes that can be funded by ambitious venture capitalists or absorbed by host-companies.
Abuja‘s 48-hour hackathon
Hackathons and Makerthons are particularly relevant in emerging markets as they bring diverse people to the table, especially from groups that would not normally be represented. Last month, Nigerian-based Co-Creation Hub hosted #BuildForMyCity, a ‘hyperlocal’ hackathon in Abuja. Creatives, developers, marketing experts, project managers, and business brains were invited to collaborate in a 48-hour hackathon, building prototypes of web and mobile apps that improve quality of life in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory. The winning team created AbujaAnswers, a question and answer service that provides localised information to Abuja residents.
What makerthons can do for the world’s refugees
In 2015, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) revealed that the number of global forced displaced people topped nearly 60 million for the first time since World War II. As host countries struggle to find answers to the refugee crisis What Design Can Do (WDCD) has partnered with UNHCR and asks designers and creatives to help both refugees and cities adapt to the new reality.
The What Design Can Do Refugee Challenge is a global design competition in search for game-changing ideas for accommodating, connecting, integrating and helping the personal development of refugees. The event occurred on June 30 and July 1, 2016.
The five best entries to the WDCD Refugee Challenge received 10,000 Euros of funding each and expert guidance in developing their concepts into viable and scalable products, services and programs. The budget is not for personal gain, but meant to see that these plans actually will make a difference.