Problem

Start out by delimiting one or multiple problems. These problems could range in scale, number, type of stakeholders involved and domain areas. Read on to learn how to recognise hackathon-suitable problems, the need for focus and how to distill relevant sub-topics as hackathon challenges.

 

Challenges in agriculture

Agriculture is constantly looking for ways to optimize processes and improve efficiency, as the planet faces a growing population and a growing pressure on natural resources. Additionally, there is an urgent need for farmers to deliver all sorts of environmental services. This subset of needs offers wide innovation opportunities for agri-tech startups, as they are frequently not yet elaborated on.


Digitalisation is a huge enabler, but at present the agri-tech space is characterized by a series of prevailing problems. These challenges include: vendor lock-in, technological push versus market pull, bad UX/UI lack of interoperability, too big data, mistrust by farmers and unused technology (lack of adoption). 


Challenges we address during hackathons often contain multiple of the above mentioned elements (check our portfolio to get an idea of the type of challenge that FarmHackNL has addressed over the years). An important perspective to any challenge, that we include whenever we can, is that of the individual farmer. How does the problem play out at farm level? And what type of solution will help the sustainability of his farm?

Digitalisation is a huge enabler, but at present the agri-tech space is characterized by a series of prevailing problems. These challenges include: vendor lock-in, technological push versus market pull, bad UX/UI lack of interoperability, too big data, mistrust by farmers and unused technology (lack of adoption). 


Challenges we address during hackathons often contain multiple of the above mentioned elements (check our portfolio to get an idea of the type of challenge that FarmHackNL has addressed over the years). An important perspective to any challenge, that we include whenever we can, is that of the individual farmer. How does the problem play out at farm level? And what type of solution will help the sustainability of his farm?

 

Problem Ownership

By building your hackathon around moonshots and far out technologies, you risk organising what will turn out to be a stand alone event which is disconnected from what’s happening in real life. An ideal way to scrutinise your hackathon challenges, is by making sure that you target problems that have a clear owner. Challenges should come from clear ‘asks’ and be part of existing initiatives, policy, or stakeholder agendas. Not only will you have a clear idea of whom and what knowledge you need to mobilize, it also improves your chances of embedding the hackathon results back in to the ecosystem. And for many participants the idea that they are working on a clear, urgent and real problem is critical when deciding to commit or not. The worst energy drain for any hackathon is a problem that turns out not be an actual problem.

 

Focus

You start out with some sort of reason for wanting to organise a hackathon, so there is already a problem area to work with. Wanting to build new applications for an existing technology for instance, or the need to do more with existing data or tackle an issue such as soil management or the use of machine data.   


It is important to agree on a general topic with your team and/or client as early on as possible, to have a clear starting point for your hackathon and helps you to come to an early framing of the event, for instance the name of the hackathon. 

To create more focus a brainstorming session can be held with your team and/or the client. Read the next section on Exploration to understand how you will curate your way through topics and sub-topics to arrive at clear cut hackathon challenges.

 
 

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