Good Practice Method
A Hackathon is an event where people come together to find innovative solutions to specific problems; in the Boulogne-sur-Mer event, the focus is on those encountered in local coastal areas. This year, this 48H event was led by the area’s FLAG, Littoral Opale, and involved more than 40 partner organisations from the Hauts-de-France region including the local fishing committee, fishmonger’s union, and marine natural park.
The Littoral Opale FLAG manager, Florence Sergent, developed the partnerships needed to facilitate and communicate the event. She identified local partners that would mobilise participants, sponsorships, resources, and experts. In the developmental stages, a small steering committee was established which gathered monthly to discuss the events preparation and progress.
During the Hackathon, participants were grouped into teams of 2-5 individuals. The groups worked on proposed challenges throughout the weekend. Several masterclasses were also offered to participants to develop skills on digital technology, innovative financing, and geographical information systems (GIS). To conclude the event, the teams presented their ideas to a designated jury from different partner organisations and the three best project ideas received honorary prizes and critically acclaimed by the jury. Some partners have already expressed their interest in further developing these ideas into projects with the teams involved.
Through the event, solutions to the proposed challenges of ‘adding value to industrial waste’, ‘improving collaboration between maritime users’ and ‘attracting new talents and facilitate their integration in the area’ were developed. A promising project proposed the development of a social enterprise that trains those working in the industry to collect, sort, map, and add value to industrial waste generated by the seafood processing sector of Boulogne-sur-Mer.
Highly transferable, the Hackathon methodology is a good tool to help communities think collectively about their local challenges while helping them develop innovative ideas.
Organising a Hackathon is not necessarily easy for a FLAG, notably because it implies a significant amount of work. The local FLAG did not have sufficient staff to supervise the whole event. The FLAG, therefore, had to sub-contract staffing through partner organisations. Another option would have been to join an existing Hackathon organised by another organisation (e.g. the Ocean Hackathon, a yearly event organised by the Campus Mondial de la Mer and Technopôle Brest-Iroise).
In terms of participants, opening this event to local students brought curiosity and creativity to the discussions. Their IT skills and deep interest for innovation have opened new perspectives on local issues.
Good communication, a creative mind, and a deep knowledge of the various local actors. The contagious dynamism of the FLAG manager has enabled to engage a close-knit team in this adventure.
Approximatively €20 000 to €25 000 of direct costs (excluding the numerous in-kind contributions by the various partners and staff wages).
The cost of running this event was supported by the Region Hauts-de-France, the Local Development Economic Agency (FLAG accountable body), and by some local sponsorships.
|Timeframe of implementation||From Sep 2019|