Tallinn University of Technology

TalTech Mektory’s Start-up Hub organised an innovation hackathon with a new format, at the end of October. The event was attended by more than a hundred students from twelve different educational institutions. Within 48 hours, 18 smart city solutions were created for the future using Google’s Design Sprint methodology. Seven challenges for which the sub-themes were mobility, circular economy and community, were presented by TalTech, Tehnopol and Ülemiste City.

Winning teams of the hackathon shared 11,000 euros and several special prizes from the partners between them. First place (€ 3000) went to team TechWay, which connects the campuses of TalTech and Tehnopol, but also the students and companies (start-ups) there by using a playful problem-solving method.

Second place (€ 2000) went to team Infinder, which by the way of using a simple platform, connects companies (start-ups) with students looking for an internship. Two third places were awarded: teams SkillU and Multispace (€ 1500 each) took the places, with the latter creating smart outdoor classrooms and other meeting rooms out of sea containers. SkillU is developing a platform which combines different skills and learning opportunities between students, companies and universities.

Ülemiste City provided a special prize of € 1500 for two teams from the Ülo Pärnits scholarship fund. Both teams are developing smart and human-friendly bus stops.

“Different crises have always been a driver for innovation. Smart businesses and institutions are currently investing in innovation and the talents of the future. This is the only way to survive deepening crises (e.g. climate crisis, health crisis) in the future. It was a pleasure to see that using a new kind of innovation print and a new team assembly system, the event saw a number of promising ideas emerge, which we will help further with various programmes and mentoring,” commented Kaisa Hansen, Mektory’s Start-up Hub Manager and the main organiser of the event.

“I have founded two start-ups myself, and been in more than twenty development programmes, incubators and accelerators. Thus, I know from my own experience that the results of such programmes depend largely on the quality of the organisation and the methods used. It seemed that conventional hackathons had “had their time” and a more innovative way needed to be adopted. As design sprint is used by the world’s most successful companies (Google, Facebook and others), the idea was to combine these two formats,” explained Hansen.

Design sprint is a structured and guided method that sees all the phases of product development covered in a few days: from defining the problem and validating the idea to prototyping and user testing. Using conventional techniques, it can take months or even years to achieve the same result. Design sprint, however, allows the process to be completed in a few days.

The solutions were evaluated by a panel of experts, which included Ragmar Saksing (Tehnopol), Kaisa Hansen (TalTech Mektory), Katrin Sulg and Ljudmila Pihel (Ülemiste City), Lev Dolgatsjov (ESTBAN), Toomas Türk (city of Tallinn), Hannes Virkus (Ajujaht), Jana Budkovskaja (Prototron) and Rain Kask (Telia).

Special prizes were provided by Ajujaht, Prototron, Telia, Myfitness, UMA Workspace, Be More, Orkla, Tehnopol, ESTBAN, Latitude59, sTARTUp Day, Robotex, Comodule, Ösel Birch. In addition to these prizes, the winners will also receive access to growth and scaling workshops in Finland and Riga and to an incubation programme in Estonia in January.

TalTech Mektory holds similar innovation sprints and development marathons to meet the challenges of companies, organisations and the society.

The Future City hackathon took place thanks to the NOCCA (Novel opportunities for new company creation and accelerated growth) project, which is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (Central Baltic Interreg Programme 2014-2020).