‘You can always find the funds to finance a smashing idea’

An app to prevent food waste, experiencing the beautiful landscape of Twente while in the city, and a rain barrel that takes care of emptying itself before the next downpour to prevent flooding. Beautiful innovative solutions that teams came up with during our Creathons. The result for them was a wonderful experience, a promising business idea and 500 euros. “Not enough to bring the ideas to market, perhaps, but you can always find the funds to finance a smashing idea.”

“As a society, we are facing massive challenges, such as liveability in big cities, climate change, food waste and safety,” says Wilbert Pontenagel, who works at Novel-T and is the programme manager for 20Creathon. “A few years ago, the province of Overijssel asked us whether a kind of hackathon might result in new solutions for these social issues. We recognised the opportunity, but also saw certain limitations, so we asked management trainee Elke to come up with a similar concept.” Elke came up with the 20Creathon. “This method involves more collaboration, and the solution is not always software-based; it can also be a product or a service,” Elke explains.

Smart valve prevents flooding

After thorough preparations, the first Creathon was held in 2015. “The participants worked on the issue of flooding in collaboration with the Vechtstromen water authority and the municipality of Enschede,” Elke recalls. They focused on the following question: what can we do to combat flooding in Enschede? The winning team came up with smart valves for rain barrels. “Analysis of real-life data provided by the Buienradar forecasting website and the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute showed that rain barrels in the city are often still full from the last downpour by the time the next one arrives, when that’s precisely when extra room for water storage is most needed,” Elke explains. “This smart valve ensures that the rain barrel is emptied out before the next downpour. The team recently presented their solution at the Innovation Expo in Amsterdam.”

Business developers help develop ideas further and stimulate growth

“There are more solutions resulting from Creathons that are being developed further in collaboration with our business developers. Sometimes teams take the idea further themselves, and sometimes others come along and run with it,” says Elke. And sometimes, the ideas that arise are not the right solution for the challenge, but are promising nonetheless. This was the case for the DEVCake team during the 20Creathon Twente Treasures. “This challenge was about how to get city people out into Twente’s beautiful nature. This team came up with an app that lets you go treasure hunting in nature, thus making the idea of spending a day outside in Twente’s beautiful nature even more appealing. One of our business developers is helping them develop the idea further. Earlier this week, I heard that they have expanded their business case and are going to be developing a vitality app to help people get moving more, using VR glasses.” Wilbert adds: “These kinds of chance match-ups, that’s where innovation is created, and that’s what we’re aiming for. Using ideas from one field in another, by involving freethinking amateurs who are not inhibited by overly specialised knowledge and letting them ask professionals in the field challenging questions and hold up a mirror to them.”

Providing support for the increasing number of festivals

“The next two years, we will be working on the themes ‘Safer Public Spaces’ and ‘Changing Events’,” unveils Wilbert. “At Changing Events, we ask students, designers, programmers, entrepreneurs and innovators to develop a platform that supports people organising events, such as in terms of safety, logistics, and permits for festivals like Kunst in het Volkspark, the Makers Festival or the UT KickIn in Enschede.” We are looking for open data and experts for each challenge, to provide the teams with sufficient insight. Our Creathon method will then provide the necessary structure and focus and results in surprising solutions. “If it results in a smashing idea, we’ll find the funds to develop it. The programme isn’t called 20Creathon for nothing; that refers to the 20,000 euros that’s available,” jokes Wilbert.

Welcoming more entrepreneurs

Although our Creathons attract mostly students, they are open to everyone. “We are looking for more companies, entrepreneurs and professionals to contribute,” says Elke. “For example, to come up with a challenge or supply data.” But why more entrepreneurs? Well, because a Creathon creates plenty of inspiration and energy and results in surprising solutions that allow companies to grow, while making a minimal investment. “But they have to get involved,” stresses Elke. “That’s why we are going to be approaching more companies and making ourselves heard in the coming period, so that everyone will know where to find us once things kick off.”

First international Creathon in 2018

Wilbert is very enthusiastic about the results of the Creathons. “They don’t just result in surprising insights and new start-ups, but also allow us to attract entrepreneurial talent from the Netherlands and abroad.” 20Creathon is working with European organisations to solve issues. “Our dream is to organise an international Creathon in 2018, where people work on the same question in various locations across the world and then pitch solutions to a single expert jury.” Elke has already begun the preparations. “Professionals often cannot find the solution for important themes. How great would it be if we could effect change with teams from all over the world? That’s our dream.”

Are you curious about how a Creathon works? Then read Creathon results in surprising solution for social issues.

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