Open Data Challenge Series: What is a Creation Weekend?
This weekend, 20 + 21 September, will see participants from around the country come together to participate in the second stage of the Housing Open Data Challenge. These entrepreneurs, designers, innovators and subject matter experts submitted their product and service ideas that use open data to solve our challenge question (below) just 3 weeks ago.
Since then, they have been assembling their teams and refining their propositions to make sure they have the best possible chance of winning one of three £5,000 prizes, tailored incubation support and an opportunity to win the overall £40,000 prize in a couple of months time. The key to the next stage in our challenge journey is passing through the Creation Weekend to become one of the three finalists.
‘But what exactly is a Creation Weekend?’
It’s a fair question. When we designed the Open Data Challenge Series back in March 2013, we were acutely aware of the plethora of hacks and hackathons that were happening, and of the common outcomes associated with them - great ideas, prototypes and rapid progress but that doesn’t necessarily translate into fully formed, user-centred products and services.
We wanted to set ourselves, and the challenge methodology we were employing, apart from an out of the box hackathon primarily because our main objective is to create sustainable, commercially viable products and services using open data - a prototype isn’t enough.
The Creation Weekend is the fourth stage in our challenge process -
Select an overall challenge theme
Engage stakeholders; design and launch the challenge question with relevant user research and data sources
Support participants to submit their product idea and link to the open data they are using
Select a shortlist of teams to participate in the Creation Weekend where we’ll pick three teams to win £5000 and a package of incubation support
Assess the three finalists again two months later and select one winner for the overall £40,000 prize
The Creation Weekend itself focuses participants on the judging criteria that they will be assessed against on the Sunday afternoon with the pitch and input on open data, social impact and user research featuring early on. In fact, the weekend really begins two weeks beforehand - at the Late Meetup for the challenge. Here we bring the selected teams together to meet the competition, consider collaboration, hear from specialists in User Research and Social Impact and to learn a little about the structure and expectations of the weekend.
What else should I expect if I am planning to participate?
At the Late Meetup we also set some homework - inviting teams to employ what they have learned about user research and to undertake some ahead of the weekend so they come to the pitch armed with real life evidence for their product or service. We also expose them to some theory related to ‘theory of change’ and social impact and invite them to start thinking about what this would look like for their proposition.
Two weeks later, at the Creation Weekend, teams spend the majority of the time on Saturday developing their product and on Sunday, developing their pitch ready for a Dragon’s Den style pitching session in front of our judges in the afternoon. There are a variety of experts on hand throughout to guide teams and challenge their thinking - from open data and pitching to social impact. After a hectic afternoon pitching, and a well deserved beer, the judges return to offer some brief feedback and to announce the winners.
A previous participant at the Creation Weekends said “I really think everything about the weekend was first rate - presentations, food, venue, organisers, agenda timings and the overall very friendly atmosphere. I particularly liked the fact that it wasn't a hackathon and that it was focussed on establishing a sustainable business idea.”
If you’d like to experience the Creation Weekend, and an Open Data Challenge for yourself, we are currently inviting applications for the Food Open Data Challenge and will soon launch challenges 6 and 7 in November and January respectively.