Graphene Hackathon

I have had the pleasure of being part of the organising team for the world’s first graphene hackathon held at the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (GEIC) in Manchester. For the hackathon, 10 teams were given graphene inks, fabrics, electronics, 24 hours and most importantly plenty of food. In these 24 hours the teams had to think of, develop, prototype and build a product using graphene inks. Then at the end of the 24 hours the teams would have to give a 5-minute pitch to a panel of judges.  

During the event experts from multiple fields came around the groups to offer advice to the teams for their business plans and product design. The teams came up with ideas from solar panels for space craft, sign language translation gloves and cycling safety. It was noted by all that during in the event, the energies of everyone in the teams never dipped. Even in the early hours of the morning, the teams were hard at work focused on getting the products built, tested and business plans prepared.  


At the end of the 24 hours, the competition was not over for the teams. The teams were to face a dragon’s den style panel of judges. But not only would these judges be looking at the products that have been built, but also the business plan behind them. There were 3 cash prizes up for grabs. An innovation prize of £250 for the team with the most creative use of the inks and technology. The second prize of £250 was for the team that came second place in the judges scoring. First place was a cash prize of £750 for the team that the judges deemed the best.

In the end the innovation prize was awarded to Glovene, for their sign language translation gloves. Second place went to Innovation INKlined, whose product was a sensor that could monitor posture for truckers, improving health and wellbeing. But first prize went to Glovene again, due to their professional pitch and well-made product. But there was also and additional prize, £5000 awarded by the GEIC to help a team develop their idea into a commercial product. This prize went to LIQUIDENTITY, whose product would assess soil quality to improve crop yield. This idea was pitched to help farmers in economically disadvantaged areas such as sub-Saharan Africa, providing real world impact.   


After the event and cleaning up, the organisers went for a well-deserved pint. We were all very impressed with how enthusiastic the teams were throughout the event, never faltering or wavering. The ideas and prototypes that were developed within the 24 hours, far exceeded everyone’s expectations and we hope that those ideas and the creativity behind them will be taken further. Here's to next year!!