Technology fuels innovation. Disruptive services and products are shaping the world. Human behaviour needs to evolve with this disruptive innovation, as does the business world. In this environment, it is vital to empathise with consumers to design services that work for them and build profitable businesses. That is where a ‘hackathon’ comes in.
A hackathon is a fast-paced design sprint, which helps companies solve their business challenges in a pressure cooker environment within a very limited time frame. The purpose is to bring a tightly focused outside-in perspective to the company involved. The best ideas are often the result of powerful collaborations and a hackathon is an example of how the School of Business and Economics not only links students with national companies, but also with ‘local heroes’, to strengthen the link with local entrepreneurs and the region.
“In business you have blind spots, and you’re not aware of any other solutions. Students have new views, they can open your eyes”, says Arno Reiniers, Financial Director at Geba Trans.
Mine Kafon, (www.minekafon.org) a demining company, is living proof of how a hackathon can bring tangible benefits to business. Mine Kafon was set up by two Afghan brothers, Massoud and Mahmud Hassani, who grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan – literally in a minefield. Many years later, in the Netherlands, the brothers have developed Mine Kafon: a drone system for detecting landmines.
Their demining system is now ready for large-scale production. The next step is marketing. “We participated in a market research project called Value-Based Marketing. Our system is ready and we know it works. But how do we get in touch with potential customers?”
Mine Kafon, along with 6 other companies, took part in a hackathon day organised by UMIO. Each company presented their business challenges to the ‘army of problem solvers’, the 150 International Business master’s students who then worked with the companies as part of the project to come up with a package of innovative solutions.
“Students are motivated and driven by new and existing ideas that they want to put into action. We’re very pleased with the results”, says Mahmud. “Essentially, we received six useful sets of insights. We’re now drawing up a strategy and taking the next step. This is an excellent example of how universities and industry can work together.”
If you want to innovate in a quick and budget-friendly manner, it is hackathon time! Find out more about how a hackathon can help your business innovate into the future.
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