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Innovation and Development Hackathon

Centre for Global Equality

Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 1:00 PM - Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 7:00 PM (GMT)

Innovation and Development Hackathon

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At this year’s Science Festival, put your skills and experience to work on a real development challenge!

Innovation and Development HACKATHON

Challenge kicks off: Saturday 16 March, 1-4pm, Dept of Engineering

Prize reception: Saturday 23 March, 5-7pm, Pitt Building

On March 16th, team up with other enterprising students and professionals to form 1 team, with 1 week, to find 1 new solution to 1 real development challenge.

The Hackathon ends on 23rd March when you pitch your idea to a panel of entrepreneurs and development specialists. The team with the most innovative, viable solution will take home a prize!



What’s going to happen?

Participating organisations are going to present a challenge and mentor to work with your team; the mentors can give you a history of the approaches and ideas that have been tried before, as well as give professional advice and guidance.

The organisations presenting challenges this year are:

You can read the challenges at:


On Saturday 16th March, from 1pm-4pm, we’ll all meet at the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, and you’ll meet your mentor and the rest of your team. By 4pm, your team will have picked a coordinator and set out a work plan for the rest of the week—and you’ll be off to follow up your leads.

Over the course of the week, you’ll work with your team to follow through on your ideas, checking in with your mentor, and putting together a 5 minute presentation to showcase your innovation. In addition to support by phone and email from your mentor throughout the week, you will also have access to a list of ‘expert consultants’ from a range of backgrounds.

On Saturday 23 March, from 5pm-7pm, each team will have 5 minutes to present your innovations to a panel of experts, and to the crowd. There will be a prize for the team whose idea is the most innovative and viable--and a wine reception for all to celebrate your hard work!

Last year’s Global Health Hackathon saw students and professionals working on a broad range of global health challenges, with some fantastic results. One of the ideas generated at the Hackathon went on to take first prize at the Idea Transform Start-Up Boot Camp, and two have since moved into prototype stage!

Who can participate?

Anyone who’s interested in putting their skills and experience to use creating innovative approaches to development challenges!  Last year we had a great balance of professionals, post-docs, PhD candidates, masters students and undergraduates. Their disciplinary backgrounds ranged from cross-cultural communications, to laser physics, to management science, to genetics. We were also lucky to have students from a number of countries participate, bringing different cultural perspectives—which we hope to repeat this year.


What will the challenges be like?

As part of the Humanitarian Centre’s Food Security Themed Year, the Hackathon will feature challenges from a range of different organisations which have projects that impact access to nutritious food. For example, gaining better access to markets and market prices, developing safeguards that protect the rights of smallholder farmers, tranferring knowledge in remote areas, designing new applications for solar power that increase food security, and so forth.

Read the full challenges at:


What are the benefits?

Students and professionals that joined teams and took up challenges last year had some great feedback about the benefit of participating. Many let us know that the event had a strong impact on helping them to develop transferable skills, like working with people from different disciplines and backgrounds, guiding a group to a consensus, and pitching an idea persuasively.  Here are some quotes from last year's innovators:

  • This is great practice working with interdisciplinary teams which is an extremely important skill”
  •  “[The hackathon] helped me find ways to think outside of the box”
  • “I intend to go into the field of international development, so it is a very valuable piece of experience,  and of course an important activity to register on my CV”
  • “I was surprised and impressed by how creative people can be piecing together solutions from different sources. It changed my view of entrepreneurship from an ‘aha moment’ innovation from scratch, to a process of bringing together existing resources in new ways.”
  • “I’ve realised it’s often simple ideas that have the most impact”
  • “It brought home that entrepreneurship is a skill potentially available to everyone, and not just ‘business types’. I feel more confident in my own ability to research and understand challenges and come up with reasonable responses to tackle them.”

Organisations that participated received an injection of energetic and creative thinking into a real challenge they were facing—with the potential of devising a viable and innovative solution!  Two of the seven participating organisations went on to develop their team’s innovation after the Hackathon, and the feedback was unanimous in that mentors from participating organisations would recommend a similar event to a friend or colleague, and strongly agreed that the Hack Day was a valuable use of their time.

As an added benefit to all, last year the Hackathon received quite a bit of publicity! The finale event is listed in the Cambridge Science Festival programme book (as well as online) and is open to all.

Register to take on a challenge today! Who knows . . . you just might change the world!

The Innovation and Development Hackathon is presented by:

The University of Cambridge Office of Public Engagement, Cambridge University Technology and Enterprise Club (CUTEC), the Cambridge Hub and the Humanitarian Centre.








This event is part of the Cambridge  Science Festival.



Have questions about Innovation and Development Hackathon? Contact Centre for Global Equality


Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 1:00 PM - Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 7:00 PM (GMT)

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Centre for Global Equality

The Centre for Global Equality focuses the resources available in world centres of excellence such as Cambridge on evolving innovative solutions to global challenges. We contribute to greater global equality by improving access for the underprivileged to the intellectual, social and financial resources usually reserved for the elite.

We are a network of NGOs, academics, businesses and individuals who work collaboratively towards reducing extreme inequality, a root cause of poverty and marginalisation globally. Based in Cambridge, we have over 50 member organisations that work on more than 90 projects in 27 countries.

For more information please visit:


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