A hackathon was held in the framework of the NewGenerationSkills project, as a major inspirational event leading up to the launch of Sofia Innovation Lab in September 2018.
Sofia Development Association (SDA) co-organized the first Balkan hackathon “Bridging the Digital Borders” on June 21-22, 2018 in Sofia. 30 interdisciplinary teams of nine Balkan countries came together in a friendly competition to propose solutions for the digital divide: between young and the elderly, men and women, urban and rural, people with and without disabilities, EU and non-EU members.
Our purpose to co-organize the hackathon and promote the Innovation Lab this way was two-fold: both to support the continuous development of some minimum viable products to successful business after the hackathon, and to build on the effort of the individual teammates, people who decide to find the motivation to go on, and the ability to work together to address social challenges. That is way SDA gave a special prize – a scholarship for the first dynamic learning package training in the lab – to the only completely female team, “Winners”, consisting of high school students, who developed computer apps for people with impaired vision. Аt the same time we directly engaged all attending 100 coders in conversations as they are the potential Innovation Lab participants, and handed them promotional leaflets. Since the event received significant earned media because of its high-profile guests, including the European Commissioner of Digital Society and Economy Mrs. Maria Gabriel and the Mayor of Sofia Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova, the international competition and the innovative character – we managed to reach through the media hundreds of young people as well.