Blockchain and Japan’s pod hotels provided the inspiration for the winning teams at a ‘hack homelessness’ event at Trinity College last weekend.
More than one hundred students participated in the hackathon, which was aimed at developing high-impact solutions to tackle homelessness. It ran all weekend as part of the inaugural Provost’s Innovation Challenge at Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace.
Organisations including Focus Ireland, the Dublin Simon Community, Depaul and the O’Cualann Housing Alliance participated in the event, briefing students on current housing challenges. Business mentors and startup and social innovation experts were also on hand over the course of the weekend.
Two winning ideas were announced by Tangent on 25th March 2019:
1. The EcoSystem, which aims to create sustainable communities for the homeless with a smart approach to space and accommodation – similar to the Japanese pod hotel model – alongside urban farming to create revenue and employment opportunities; and
2. The Homeless Wallet, which aims to enable cashless, transparent donations via a blockchain digital wallet, allowing people to donate directly to individuals and charities, and to see exactly where their money goes.
The teams behind the winning projects will receive €10,000 to develop their ideas over the summer as part of LaunchBox, Tangent’s Student Accelerator.
Commenting today, Gavan Drohan, Head of Student Entrepreneurship at Tangent and one of the judges at the hackathon, said: “I am consistently impressed by how enthusiastic and engaged our students are. In just one weekend, 48 hours really, we had eight different and considered solutions relating to homelessness, one of the most complex social issues Ireland faces today.
“We’re thrilled to offer development funding to the two winning solutions, and to move them from idea to impact this summer.”
Students participating in the hackathon ranged from undergraduates to PhD candidates; and came from diverse academic backgrounds. The team behind the ‘EcoSystem’ idea is made up of:
• Leo Zhou, a postgraduate student of International Management, originally from Shanghai in China;
• Himanshu Singh; an undergraduate student of Nanoscience, Physics and Chemistry of Advanced Materials, from Citywest in Dublin; and
• Morgan Hurley O’Dwyer, an Engineering undergraduate, from Newbridge, Co. Kildare.
The team behind the ‘Homeless Wallet’ idea, meanwhile, is:
• Daniel Cosgrove, a Computer Science undergraduate from Derry;
• Robin Twist, a postgraduate student of Accounting, from Dublin; and
• Claire Bonass, a Design student from Dublin.
Participating teams were joined at the hackathon by representatives from homelessness and housing organisations, as well as social innovation coaches and mentors. In addition to Gavan Drohan, the judging panel for the event included: Kevin Gregory from Focus Ireland; Amy Power from the Social Innovation Fund; and Tim Crowley from O’Cualann Housing Alliance.
Further information is available at www.tcd.ie/tangent/