Turkey’s largest online hackathon: Hack the Normal by Arcelik

Having focused on three areas, the event was after the new normal lifestyle in days of global pandemic

Arcelik, as Turkey’s one of the leading domestic appliances company, held Hack the Normal, an online hackathon. Took place on May 15-17, the aim of the event was to reverse the effects of the COVID-19 by inspiring and bringing hope by empowering individuals and corporations. Social Life, Healthy Life and Sustainability were the main areas of Hack the Normal and 53 projects were qualified, coming from 5 countries, Turkey, Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and Norway.  Uğur Halatoğlu, Arcelik Group Innovation Manager, answered my questions regarding the event.   

-What was the motivation behind Hack the Normal?  Why did you start the hackathon?

As Arcelik we are always exploring new ways to have positive impact on people’s lives. Managing new dynamics, taking agile and cooperative steps to make a difference is more important than ever during the COVID-19 outbreak. In order to reverse the effects of the crisis, Arcelik Innovation team wanted to inspire and bring hope by empowering individuals and corporations.

Hack the Normal, hackathon idea was founded with this motivation and we asked “How might we adapt to the «new normal» lifestyle in our homes as a result of COVID-19 while creating a positive impact for our society and planet?”. Due to Arcelik Innovation’s open innovation approach and digital prowess, we decided to design the hackathon in a digital environment as well as making it open to public so that we were able to accept applications from not only from within Arcelik and Koc Group companies, but also from startups, entrepreneurs, domain experts from various disciplines.

Hack the Normal focused on 3 key challenges; Social Life, Healthy Life and Sustainability. In addition to the multi-disciplinary applicants, we enriched the hackathon by attracting 180 mentors and more than 100 partners from private sector, startup ecosystem, civil and academic society.  Participants were encouraged to develop new products, services and business models that have the potential to be commercialized.

Attracting a great deal of interest, Hack the Normal achieved its goals by enabling the creation of numerous valuable projects which will have positive impact on our lives.

-How did you choose the teams for the hackathon?

We aimed to bring talented individuals from multi-disciplinary backgrounds together to address complex challenges. In this endeavor, we attracted more than 1.000 applications and we were pleased to see a level of engagement that exceeded our expectations. In line with our open hackathon approach, we allowed teams as well as individuals to apply. All teams and individuals were screened and voted in by our Hackathon team according to how much thought they put into their ideas, team formation and domain acumen. As the result of our evaluation, around 300 participants from various disciplines such as sociology, design, technology, psychology, human resources, management and communication were selected.

Some projects from Hack the Normal

– What were the subjects for hackathon? How many projects did participate in the event? Did you have any participants from foreign countries?

Hack the Normal became the largest hackathon organized in Turkey to this date with 300 entrepreneurs; around 200 mentors and more than 100 partners from private sector, venture ecosystem, civil and academic society.

Entrepreneurs aged from 17 to 60 years, coming from 5 countries, Turkey, Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and Norway, and 31 different cities in Turkey have turned their creative ideas into projects. The 52-hour event organized by ATÖLYE has resulted with 52 projects created under the topics Healthy Life, Social Life and Sustainable Life.

-Who were the winners? What were their projects?

From the start, we didn’t want to have winners and losers. All participants of Hack the New Normal were able to benefit equally from a well-designed hackathon with free digital tools, mentors from different fields, a network of partners, education sessions and webinars with special guests.

Within the scope of Hackathon, some of the ideas developed in the topic of Healthy Life were; mobile sterilization devices for home use, solutions for order delivery with secure hygienic conditions, wearable technologies that track health and hygiene of technical service personnel.

Teams providing Artificial Intelligence and Smart Algorithm Solutions; decision support systems that enable tracking personal health data, treatment processes of individuals and doctor consultations remotely.

In terms of Social Life Projects, we can list digital parties for fun and socializing, game platforms that enable interactive fitness activities and social platforms that will make cooking at home more enjoyable. Mobile sterilization devices, hygienic home delivery solutions, remote patient monitoring, compost box to reduce food waste, interactive fitness solutions were the projects that attracted a great deal of attention.

-Will you support the winning projects? If yes, what type of supports will you provide?

All projects were uploaded to a global Hackathon site where it can be reviewed and pursued by anyone in the world. As the organizers of this event, we are also evaluating projects that can be pursued by Arcelik. The chosen projects will receive additional support in “product development” including prototyping, product test and approval processes and intellectual property, in “sales and marketing” by being able to access customers on Arcelik’s online and offline channels, and in “business model creation” by receiving mentorship and benefiting from Arcelik Innovation Incubation program.

Clicking this link, (in Turkish) you can see the qualified projects.

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