Hackathons: Crowdsourcing Creative Ideas Aids Real World Problems

Could your next great idea come from a “hackathon”?  Hackathons are a very intense, face-to-face, and time limited form of collaborative problem solving that originated in the 1990s. These hackathons were traditionally designed to bring together computer programmers from around the world to create new software and tech solutions. Now however, companies such as Facebook frequently host hackathons to create new features such as the “like” button or “poke” feature. Hackathons have essentially become a creative way for companies or groups of entrepreneurs to pool or “crowdsource” ideas from large groups of creative minds.

Companies, organizations, and non-profits are now putting together hackathons to create innovative ideas and products, while also generating new ideas that might solve real-world problems. For example, British Airways recently hosted a hackathon 30,000 feet in the air as part of a new innovative initiative! British Airways flew 130 creative minds from San Francisco to London where they were asked to address the disconnect between talent and job opportunities relating to areas such as science technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Some of the potential solutions that were created are to be presented to the United Nations. To read more about British Airways’ Hackathon click here.

Similarly, in October 2013, a group of South African entrepreneurs launched the idea of a “Startup Bus”, where 30 chosen participants were part of a four-day hackathon on a bus!  The bus left from Zimbabwe and ended up in South Africa and during these four days, the participants broke off into teams and were expected to collaborate and come up with a new startup idea relating to Africa’s current economic state. The aim of the Startup Bus was to give participants some insight into some of Africa’s most challenging sectors, i.e. health, energy and mobile technology.

This type of creative crowdsourcing or idea generation is extremely useful for those interested in starting their own business, but may not necessarily know where to begin. They also provide an excellent foundation for motivated and innovative individuals to come together to collaborate and network in order to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues.

Check out the hackathons that are happening now!

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