IPMA Hackdays successfully performed in Serbia
Within the framework of the 10th IPMA Research Conference in Belgrade, the 2nd IPMA Hackdays took place between June 18 and 20 (https://www.ipma-research-conference.world/ipma-hackdays-2022/). In contrast to the first edition, which had to take place virtually due to the pandemic, this time three student teams were able to compete against each other in person for hacking societal challenges in a co-creative way.
Hackdays, sometimes also called ‘hackathons’, are an event frequently used in the software development scene to find novel approaches for solving challenges in an intensive competition lasting several days between different teams. At the end of the event, the solutions are presented and awards are given to the best of them. However, the event format is much more than just a co-creative competition. At the same time, it can be used as a form of learning to strengthen the readiness and capability for innovation within companies as well as on the threshold from university education to professional life, respectively laying the foundation for the successful launch of a new business idea or venture.
Students were able to choose their topic from a list of societal challenges and organize themselves. The IPMA Hackdays started in the morning on Saturday and ended with a presentation of the results and the awarding of the prizes on Monday afternoon. In the beginning, four teams were at the start, with one already saying goodbye on Saturday. The other three teams, however, started the ideation with all the more energy to find solutions for their chosen topic. These topics ranged from raising environmental awareness among children via a self-programmed app to preventing food waste by distributing food to the needy and reusing it, to advising citizens and businesses on the advantages and the utilization of the circular economy.
At the end of their work, the teams then had to present the results to a jury, which selected the winning team according to previously announced criteria. In addition to cash and book prizes, the teams will soon receive training in the skills they said they missed the most during the IPMA Hackdays. For example, it turned out that most of the teams had little know-how in pitching ideas. Skills for creating business cases were also missing. What was striking was that the teams were very homogeneous in their composition and that an exchange of skills between the teams only took place after an intervention. For example, a group that had primarily business skills available requested a programmer from a group of programmers, which in turn required someone with complementary skills.
In the end, everyone agreed that Hackdays are a lot of fun, a great opportunity for collaborative learning and for developing business-relevant skills. At the same time, it is possible to come up with ideas to start a business, which can be used to realize one’s own ambitions. This is especially important in a country like Serbia, whose economic and societal development depends on the potential of young people to learn and apply practical skills during their transition from university to professional life.
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