Hack Society — for the better


Sometimes… Perfect is the enemy of the good. It does not matter how innovative your idea is, if you cannot get over the initial hump, and get stuck in the weeds working out every single detail, even the best ideas, remain just…ideas. That is why the hackathon format has boomed in popularity as a way to brainstorm and create innovative new ideas. Participants do not have time to iron out all the potential issues a solution may have, or debate alternative avenues, you have to pick the best idea you have and run with it, dealing with any pitfalls as they come and solving them as you go. And, with a little luck, and a lot of lateral thinking, at the end of the session you will have a tangible prototype, rather than a far-off concept. It is an effective way of actualizing solutions into existence. It was originally designed for computer programmers to come together and brute-force some coding into existence, but now the format has evolved to include a myriad of problem solving approaches.

Ultrahack is an organisation that has recently opened up the format of the hackathon to a mass audience since it was founded in 2015, helping companies and individuals workshop ideas in more than 140 programs, across 4 continents, with previous partners that include NASA, Asaian Development Bank, EIT Digital. But what really interested the ResBios team when they heard about Ultrahack was the Citizenhack events they have organised.

In partnership with the EU Commision, Citizenhack events provide a platform for EU citizens to suggest solutions for real-life issues that affect their local communities, and team them up with experts and researchers, and through this process of co-creation, these teams can create solutions to help improve society as a whole. These types of events embrace what Responsible research and Innovation (RRI) stands for, by building connections between citizens and research and showing that academia and science can have positive and tangible impacts on the lives outside of these academic bubbles, and also demonstrate intrinsic benefits to both the citizens and the researchers involved in these Hackathon events. For those who have an idea about how to improve their community, these collaborations crystallise the notion that input from society is important to innovation, no matter what your background, and researchers are happy to collaborate with societal actors. As well as this, scientists gain an insight into the needs of those in industry and in local communities, in order that their work can have a direct and lasting impact for society as a whole.

Juhani Kivikangas, Chairman of the Board at Ultrahack commented during the CitizenHack2022 opening ceremony said:

“The last two years have brought people closer together and also made the world a smaller place. It is now not unusual for teams consisting of different countries but it has also shown us how small the world is… Co-creation challenges and solutions do not come from the top-down, they are worked on together and focus on the existing needs of the customer, and even the smartest minds in the world can not make change alone. We need collaboration to understand the true challenge, and what should be done to help citizens in 2022. The most important ingredient to good solutions is not a technical implantation but instead that you understand the challenge- challenges that people face everyday. That is why having citizens involved in this process is so important, combined with researchers who are a huge source of power when academic wisdom meets down-to-earth problems. Hackathons play a big role in RnD and open innovation”.

Juhani Kivikangas, Chairman of the Board at Ultrahack

CitizenHack2022 will happen later this month, 10–12 February. Good luck to everyone involved, we can not wait to hear what innovations you come up with!

To find out more about CitizenHack2022 click here

Chris Styles, Project Officer, EUSEA



Mutual learning for responsible biosciences

This is the blog of the ResBios project (https://www.resbios.eu). It aims to bring RRI institutional changes into some biosciences research organizations.