In March 2021, several organizations from across the North Atlantic came together to host the Think Rural, Think Digital North Atlantic Hackathon. UNE North was a proud partner alongside Nordic Atlantic Cooperation (NORA) of the Faroes Islands; Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) of Scotland; Cooperation Council of Ontario (COO) – Canada; and the Maine North Atlantic Development Office.
The weekend of March 19-21, 39 innovators from across the North Atlantic, including Maine, Canada, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Norway and Scotland, worked in international teams, many with teammates they have only just met, to develop ideas related to the hackathon’s two themes – digital health in the rural North and rural tourism recovery from Covid 19. After an opening ceremony that included interviews with last year’s hackathon winners and a speech for President Olafur Ragnar Grimmson, former President of Iceland, the teams got down to business. Their work was facilitated on Slack and each team had a mentor who worked with them throughout the process. At the end of the event, each team submitted a two-minute video and optional briefing document to a jury of professionals from across the region. The ideas were evaluated on the following criteria.
- The idea needs to be relevant to the chosen themes – either in Digital Health or Rural Tourism. The specific challenge needs to be clearly articulated.
- Is there a demand for the proposed solution in the region or elsewhere in the world?
- The idea needs to be novel or propose a fresh approach to an existing challenge. It cannot already be in use and should not have been proposed at other hackathons before.
- Probability of success
- Does this idea have a commercial potential i.e., something that can turn into a business venture and is it scalable?
- In addition, all ideas should seek to align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Three prizes were awarded in each them with prizes ranging from approximately $3200 to $6400. The top finishers in each category also received an additional award. The digital health winners were offered the opportunity to enroll their idea in an accelerator program. The rural tourism team won a trip to a rural tourism conference hosted by NORA in the Faroe Islands in Fall 21. The full range of teams and projects can be found here.