The Grand Nordic Health Hackathon will take place 27–30 October 2020. For the first time, the Nordic Health Hackathon will be carried out in a complete virtual setting with participants spread across the Nordic region.
“We encourage solutions that focus on prevention, but we are also happy to see solutions concentrate on treatment and care”, says Edda Konráðsdóttir, founder of Iceland Innovation Week and currently involved in organizing the hackathon.
She especially encourages women, people over 50, students and people temporarily laid off due to COVID-19 to apply for participation and the chance to win the main prize of EUR 10.000.
Solutions for the people, by the people
Konráðsdóttir has experience from several hackathons and means that the use of a hackathon is a great way to fast-track innovative ideas because solutions are created in a short span of time. The method is particularly relevant when it comes to finding preventative solutions to health challenges, recognizing that both access to health data and citizen participation is necessary. She believes that solutions made for the people, by the people, can have an immense impact:
“In order to provide the best possible personalized health care for all Nordic citizens, we need to involve them in that process. By sharing health data and the health care challenges we face with the public, there is a chance we find that one solution that will change the world”.
The benefit of a hackathon is not only limited to the societal impact of the solutions created. It also creates value for the participants by providing an arena for trying out their ideas and potentially getting to test their solutions in real life, which could turn out to be a career.
“The obvious upside to participation is the possibility of claim the grand prize and invaluable networking opportunities. But the most value is the chance to make a difference”, says Konráðsdóttir.
Demonstrating the possibilities of sharing health data
The Grand Nordic Health Hackathon is the fourth Nordic Health Hackaton, following national hackathons in Reykjavik, Helsinki and Copenhagen in 2019. This time, the hackathon will be completely digital and engage participants throughout the Nordic region with hopes of demonstrating the possibilities of integrated health data in the Nordic region.
“We believe Nordic cooperation is critical to maintain our position as global front runners and secure a competitive future for the health-related industries. Our vision is that by 2030, the Nordics will be the most sustainable and integrated health region in the world, providing the best possible personalized health care for all its citizens”, says Konráðsdóttir.
As participants in hackathons are more diverse, we can build a future where the builders of the solutions to our societal challenges will actually mirror its users– Edda Konráðsdóttir, founder of Iceland Innovation Week
The Grand Nordic Health Hackathon is part of Nordic Innovation’s Health, Demography and Quality of Life program. One of the goals of the program is to make the Nordic region a test region for sharing health data and becoming a role model for other EU countries.
“We want to facilitate and showcase how health data from across the Nordic region can be utilized to improve the quality of life of its citizens. The Nordic Health Hackathons are great examples of the results you can get from making data available to problem-solvers”, says Þórður Reynisson, Senior Innovation Adviser at Nordic Innovation.
Encouringing more women to participate
However, to get the best possible solutions from a hackathon, Edda Konráðsdóttir empazises the need for diversity in background and skills from the participants. She encourages more women to sign up to combat the prevailing gender bias in the hackathon space.
“Male coders’ stereotype often leads to an unwelcome environment for female participants. The confidence gap, imposter syndrome, perfectionism, and the social expectations of what a "hacker should look like" are hurdles that we need to overcome. To address this problem, we first need to acknowledge the gender gap and then help women feel welcome and confident in hackathons’ social dynamics”, says Konráðsdóttir
Working more directly with this issue in relation to the Grand Nordic Health Hackathon is only one small step in making a larger difference. The inclusion of female representation in the upcoming health hackathon is however key to find solutions that are relevant to a Nordic population.
“The lack of female representation in hackathons, and in the tech world in general, is both institutional and systemic and cannot be solved with one hackathon. It will take time and effort, and it is, therefore, essential to start right now. There are many steps we can take today to come closer to bridging this gap. By showing strong role models, sharing best practices, making the challenges of hackathons more appealing to female participants, we can slowly close this gap. As participants in hackathons are more diverse, we can build a future where the builders of the solutions to our societal challenges will actually mirror its users”, she adds.
To those who do participate in the Grand Nordic Health Hackathon, Konráðsdóttir’s best tips are to enjoy the ride, make meaningful connections and make an impact. She feels that hackathons are inspiring meeting places, with effects running long after the event.
“The best part of the experience is always to see diverse people with different skills and backgrounds come together to create something impactful. Their passion and drive are so contagious and it’s really inspiring. What I personally find the most fascinating is what happens after the hackathon, when you see the solutions come to life that will directly impact people’s lives. This usually happens months or even years later. So the impact really is long term”.
About the Grand Nordic Health Hackathon
The hackathon takes place 27-30 October 2020. It will be hosted completely online and is open for all citizens and residents in the Nordic countries. The hackathon is open to both teams and individuals. To win the main prize of EUR 10.000, the participants must develop an innovative and personalised digital solution that will improve the health and quality of life for Nordic citizens.
The aim of the hackathon is to take further steps towards our vision of making the Nordics the most sustainable and integrated health region in the world by 2030, providing the best possible personalized health care for all its citizens.