Desert Bloom (a URI CC) organized a day-long Innovathon (borrowed from hackathon methodology; integrating the concepts of “innovation” and “marathon” to unleash innovation). It was a full day of hands-on learning, co-creation, innovation, enrichment, perseverance, hard work, networking and fun. The event brought together more than 50 people from diverse backgrounds including academia, public, private and voluntary sectors. A good number of seasoned social entrepreneurs worked hand in hand with the majority of young people who are either engaged in social entrepreneurship in different capacities or aspiring social entrepreneurs.
The Innovathon was organized under INN@SE Project “Innovative Social Entrepreneurship with Youth Engagement”. The project was co-founded by the European Union, Erasmus Plus Programme.
To learn more about the project and its results, please visit the project website.
The day started with getting to know each other through Human Bingo, then we built a common understanding of key concepts including Hackathon methodology, open innovation, social entrepreneurship and its ecosystem, design thinking and business modeling. Additionally, common tools usually used by entrepreneurs were introduced such as community needs assessment, problem analysis, ideation and business modeling.
Together, we conducted a PESTEL Analysis to explore new trends and challenges in our community that incite problems and needs. As a result, the participants highlighted the following 8 focus areas:
1) Lack of care for deaf and hard-of-hearing people.
2) Food security.
3) Young students are making rushed career decisions too early.
4) Lack of interest in recycling5) Increasing divorce rate across Jordan.
6) Lack of awareness about metaverse possibilities.
7) Lack of entrepreneurial education at an early age Lack of awareness about renewable energy benefits and potentials.
The participants were divided into 8 groups according to their interests in the above-mentioned areas (between 5-8 in each group). Each group had at least one expert. Then the Innovathon competition started. The groups framed the problem statements, analyzed the problems (through problem tree and Solution tree), then brainstormed to develop their innovative ideas and translate them into a social business model. They were given time to prepare for pitching their ideas.
The groups pitched their project ideas in front of an expert jury panel and audience. The following two projects won the prizes:
1) Developing a mobile application to translate audio to Sign Language. To help deaf and hard of hearing to fully integrate in life.
2) Develop a video game that enables young students to gain a sense of real work experience of certain jobs to make the right study decision. The event lasted for 9 hours, while it was planned for 8 hours. It was so engaging and many participants lost their senses of time.
The Innovathon not only raised awareness about social entrepreneurship, it has also built young people entrepreneurial skills and capacities.