An Innovation Impact Hackathon
Industry and Community Partners
Hackathon/Competition and Event
RMIT and The
University of Melbourne
- Engaging multiple disciplines
- Intra or entrepreneurial elements
- Co-designed with industry or community
- Scalable and sustainable
- RMIT Activator supports the entrepreneurial spirit of RMIT University and its students. It takes advantage of strong industry links and a network of successful alumni to help guide and build students’ original, innovative ideas to life. Through independent funding, RMIT Activator has the flexibility to respond to industry needs as they arise. Such funding allowed for prizes including a 3-day pass for each member of the winning team to attend an innovation conference that students may not otherwise have been able to afford.
- Challenge statements were circulated to registered students well in advance of the event, allowing them time to conduct some preliminary, self-directed research in preparation for the hackathon.
- The one-day hackathon format required less commitment of time and resources than offering semester-long WIL opportunities however the students still benefited immensely from the engaging experience. They were able to network with each other as well as with participants from industry.
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Melbourne Innovation Districts (MID) is a partnership between the City of Melbourne, RMIT University (RMIT Activator) and the University of Melbourne. MID and RMIT hosted a Hackathon for the Queen Victoria Market (QVM), focussing on creating an urban innovation district in the immediate area just north of the Melbourne CBD.
Through MID investment, and in collaboration with QVM, RMIT Activator hosted a day-long event where 9 interdisciplinary teams worked alongside industry experts and several RMIT staff, to create, innovate, pitch and shape the future of the QVM.
Students were randomly assigned to teams on the day and led through an intensive schedule of activities modelled on the design thinking approach to identifying needs, brainstorming and prototyping solutions against one of two challenges:
How might we change behaviours at Queen Vic Market for visitors and stall holders so that we can demonstrate ways society can minimise food waste and reduce the impact on the environment?
How might we re-imagine the market place experience for the Queen Vic Market so that store holders can create diverse and engaging experience for visitors?
The event culminated in pitches, model displays and role-plays, presented to a panel of judges consisting of university and industry representatives.
QVM plan to implement the sustainable and low cost winning idea which proposed to change behaviours of visitors and stall holders of the market in order to reduce food wastage. Industry representatives and academics were able to experience first-hand the benefits of following a dynamic workshop format, as well as the advantages of partnering with a university to help address real world commercial and social issues.
Impact / outcomes
Students: Learning the design thinking process through first-hand experience was a valuable take away skill. Working in cross-disciplinary teams provided the opportunity to network with students from entirely different discipline areas and allowed them to build genuine connections. Feedback from prominent industry-based judges was rewarding and timely as many students were preparing for graduation.
Industry partners: The impetus for undertaking this partnership was a decision to focus on helping businesses within their district. QVM was keen to hear new ideas from students and to extend its relationship with RMIT. They felt very supported by RMIT who organised all of the logistics, including the selection of student participants and panel of judges. A supportive environment also at QVM and innovative projects through MID encouraged different ways of doing things.
The day resulted in extensive collaboration between all stakeholders, with great ideas generated by each group. QVM were very satisfied with the whole process having students involved in their planning and have indicated that they want to run another hackathon in 2018. They are also considering broadening their relationship with RMIT in different ways. Engagement for multiple stakeholders provided good exposure for MID.
Teaching Staff: RMIT Activator worked closely with QVM to assist with identifying their key challenges for further exploration within a hackathon setting. Specific criteria was also developed to guide the panel of judges.
While there was no formal assessment for course credit, participation in this event could count towards the Development Edge component of RMIT’s Future Edge Program. This is an initiative open to all students, designed to develop and enhance their employability skills in addition to their formal studies. It is a recognised co-curricular activity that will be noted on the student’s academic transcript.
No formal survey of student participants was conducted during or after the event.