Last year I was a mentor for the teams at the InnoDays in Vienna. I can still remember the impressive energy of the participants. At the InnoDays, as at other hackathons, it is all about getting from an idea to a prototype in 48 hours. Companies bring their challenges and receive new solutions from teams of students and young innovators. In Vienna last year, the focus was on Circular Economy. Rauch, Raiffeisenbank International and Andritz were looking for solutions in the food, banking and industrial sectors. The results, which were presented at the end, were impressive. I think we will certainly see the ideas implemented in one form or another. Whether or not they are implemented by the participants themselves, depends on the companies that also get to know talents at the event.
Virtual InnoDays in Berkeley became global
This year, as we all know, everything is different. The InnoDays on Micromobility and Social Equity were planned as an event in Berkeley, California. Since a physical event was not possible, it was decided to create a virtual event. The EDF Innovation Lab from France had planned a whole range of challenges and was very grateful that the virtual nature of the event made it possible to hold the InnoDays in 3 time zones.
Several teams in Europe, Asia and the USA, most of whom did not know each other before, developed solutions. At the beginning the teams are assembled. The aim is that each team should bring together specialists from engineering, design and business. With Sprintbase for the design thinking process and presentations, Slack as a messenger platform for the exchange, Zoom for the video conferences and an enormous effort of the organizers everything went smoothly. Again this time very promising solutions were found. Fortunately, most of the teams were not only concerned with simply improving the electrification of mobility. The innovators directly thought about systemic solutions with circular economy thoughts.
Hackathon helps to support a fail and learn mentality
I always find it impressive how the ideas and solutions change during the competition. For example, the idea of a car-free city centre was transformed into a solution for transporting heavy materials in a mountainous region. The participants quickly absorb the feedback from the mentors and are flexible in adapting their ideas. Something that in “normal” business is often much harder to do because individuals are strongly attached to what they have proposed. Being able to “let go” is an important skill that we often don’t learn in our educational system. The Hackathons, and Design Thinking sessions in general, help to develop the mentality in dealing with shortcomings and failures in a positive, learning oriented way.
Despite the distance, the feedback from the participants, both from the partner and from the mentors and participants, was absolutely positive. The spirit of the event arrived despite the distance, the motivation of the participants was visible. Certainly, not everything went smoothly, but technical errors are easily accepted. The delays were surprisingly small, so that we kept the allocated timeboxes very well.
InnoDays 2020 in Vienna on Circular Economy
Due to the positive experiences from Berkeley, the InnoDays in Vienna from 13-15 May will also be held virtually. The focus will again be on the circular economy, and ideas from the economy for the common good will also be included in the challenges. The partners have not yet been finalised, applications are still possible. I am curious to see if it will be as international as last time. In any case, I am excited about the event and think it is a great opportunity for companies without their own innovation department to generate new ideas.
Anyone who would like to be there can contact us directly and we will be happy to pass on the event documentation.