From March 27th- 30th 2023, the DCU Social Innovation Hackathon – Hack4Change – took place in DCU’s U building. Approximately 700 first year business school students and first years from the Climate and Environmental Sustainability Futures programme took part in one of the 6 sessions run over these 4 days. We also welcomed 13 speakers, approximately 50 mentors and several key sponsors.
Part of the Learning Innovation for Enterprise (LIFE) module, the hackathon enabled students to work collectively in groups to develop innovative solutions for circular economy-related issues. Students developed Problem Definition Statements before their hackathon session, while during the session they worked through a number of ideation techniques and completed their Hack Impact canvases. Sessions began with lightning talks and speakers included social entrepreneurs and industry experts representing a variety of prominent institutions such as the Rediscovery Centre, Dublin City Council, PWC and GreenFridays4Future. Mentors from companies such as Deloitte, an Taisce, Mastercard, and many generous DCU staff offered their feedback and insights on proposed solutions. For the final activity of the hackathon sessions, students were asked to post their problems and solutions in visually compelling Instagram posts to receive some further feedback from peers. A total of 87 posts and 37 stories were posted to the DCUHack4Change Instagram account.
The students focused on a wide variety of circular economy innovations such as an appliance repair education service to reduce overconsumption caused by designing for obsolescence, a system for upcycling and recycling materials from disposable vapes, and a service redirecting textiles from landfill towards the creation of personalised items with a story. Student-led engagement on Instagram led to a sharp increase in metrics for our account with over 2000 people engaged with the Instagram posts generating thousands of likes, highlighting the success of the event.
The students also won DCC and DCU Business School sponsored goodie bags for winning the circular economy table quiz at each session, One4All vouchers for the most innovative idea and the most reach for their Instagram posts, a DCC sponsored bike from the Social Enterprise Frontline Bikes for the most engaged students, a ticket to the Circular Economy Hotspot event worth 300euro, a 50euro voucher for the circular enterprise Kopper Kreation, as well as some further goodie bags and a hamper for engagement and teamwork.
Each hackathon session ended with pizza for the students and our speakers and mentors availed of a Dublin City Council sponsored lunch provided by the Social Enterprise Loaf catering each day. Overall the event was an effective means of providing students with some ideation experience in the circular economy space as well as the opportunity to engage with industry members.
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