Hack for Gävle –

Arranging a new type of event

Emelie Eklöf, cluster member manager at FPX, was one of the organizers of Hack for Gavle, in cooperation with Openhack. The hack was open to everyone who who wanted to participate in creating change in the society. No previous knowledge or skills was necessary, it was enough that you were involved and contributed.

– I have never arranged a real hackathon of this size before, says Emelie a couple of days after the event.  It has been an exciting journey. I learned a lot of new things; it was both educational and a lot of fun.

FPX created the challenges for the participants together with the sponsors. What would you say is important to think about when arranging a hack?

– The challenges are important; they set the tone for the whole hack. Therefore, it is important that they are clear and have a defined recipient. It is crucial that the participants feel emotionally engaged and want to study one of the challenges closer. Care should also be taken so that the challenge is open; meaning that the sponsor does not steer the participants to a solution from the start. I was very pleased with the challenges, even though the vast majority of the participants chose two of the challenges, most likely because they were a little more clearly defined.

Emelie believes that one of the reasons why the hack became so successful was that all communication was in English.

– It was an incredible mix of people and skills and at least 12 different nationalities participated, I don’t think we would have had that response communicating in Swedish. Many were exchange students from different parts of the country, they have a culture among them to participate and contribute as much as possible during the study abroad. Partly thanks to our inclusion work, we also had a good mix between the sexes, with just over 40 percent women. That is a relatively high figure in these contexts, hacks are usually fairly male-dominated.

Emelie is surprised that the participants were so self-sufficient, and that the process ran extremely smooth.

– It was a very nice atmosphere during the whole time. I had prepared six coaches to help the participants to drive their processes, but they did not actually have much to do! We have learned so much from this experience that we can use for coming events. We will keep this form of event but also arrange hackathons that is more technical, hopefully together with our Collabs.

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