Challenges for the distribution ecosystem (08/05/20)

By: Nina Hoppmann
Created: 8 May 2020 - 07:05
Updated: 10 May 2020 - 09:05

On 8 May 2020, we have been talking about the status and challenges of the distribution ecosystem. The two speakers were Paolo Bisogni, president of European Logistics Association (ELA), and Ramón García García, Spanish cluster CITET (Innovation Center for Logistics and Freight Transport).

Cluster managers have proven to be flexible and have shown resilience since the beginning of the crisis. They have been able to adapt their work. However, the industries within the distribution ecosystem have been seriously affected, and we need to solve several challenges: 

  • With most production activities in the far East, how can we bring back production to Europe? 
  • How can we solve our corrent dependence on external suppliers? 
  • How can we increase the liquidity of Western companies? 
  • How can we increase the access to raw material components? 
  • How can we use the circular economy for a new start? 
  • How can we prepare for the next pandemic? 
  • How can we invest in the digitisation of our SMEs? 
  • How can we promote innovation in this ecosystem? 

8 May 2020
Hackathon for creating innovative ideas

cyberLAGO is the largest transnational network of digital experts in the Lake Constance region. cyberLAGO consists of established companies, start-ups, universities and (public) institutions. They all have diverse skills in the fields of IT, digitization and innovation.

Our main task is to network the diverse digital competences in the Lake Constance region, making them visible inside and outside the region and using them to strengthen the region.

Why are we doing the HACK AND HARVEST Hackathon and decided to do an online hackathon?

Our experiences with hackathons had shown that this format provides good conditions to produce innovative solutions in a short time, especially our mentoring concept pursue this target. Mentors from business and science support the teams and their ideas with know-how and experience and make sure the ideas have the best opportunities to grow and get realized.  We want to create  a space where innovation can flourish and enabling a platform for exchange and creating ideas in teamwork. One big advantage of doing a hackathon as a cluster, is having a great network of experts and contact persons of different sectors from which the participants can benefit. The easy access to these experts is one of the things, the participants appreciate the most. In the end we were having 80 people and 7 mentors working on ideas during the hackathon, two participants coming from the USA and Great Britain. Its another good reason for doing it online, since it does not depend on the location.

How did the online hackathon differ from the face-to-face hackathon when it comes to organising?

Online events need to be planned more detailed. Especially the communication and the flow of information throughout the two days need to be ensured in order to provide the participants with all information and updates. Online it is also more likely to lose participants in case they do not feel part of the event or feel lost. It is imporant to reach out to his participants and try to help them for example with finding the right group. We mainly used two communication tools, a videoconference tool and istant messaging tool. Videoconfering was important to enable the personal closeness, to have a connection with the participants, to create a personal and familiar atmosphere. And also to have easy access to all the group meeting since every team had its own videoconference room everyone could join whenever he or she wants. That made it easy for mentors and organizers to support the teams and have a strong connection with them. Apart from that Instant messaging tool was used in order to provide all kind of information, for example how to structure the final pitch, when the final presentation will take place, the times for meetups in the whole group, time for workshop sessions. In this way we managed to create a sense of community and team spirit troughout the whole hackathon. A benefit that mentors and participants loved most about the event. It was familiar, there was a personal exchange and the possibility to have insights in every projects.

What kind of projects were created within the two days? For example:

"Organifarms": pushing vertical farming forward, with help of artificial intelligence and robotic as a service. Vertical farming needs a lot of employees, with help of robotic as a service and artifical intelligence this problem shall be solved

Platform that handles reservation requests, plattform for guests and suppliers.

Landingpage where information is collected for people with disabilities when, for example which restaurants are accessible for wheelchair etc.

What is happening with the projects after the hackathon?

In our survey we asked the teams whether they keep working on their projects after the hackathon. More than half of the interviewed participants said they will work on their projects furtherone.

The mentors are supporting the teams in different ways, with networking, with marketing etc, whatever the team and their idea needs to be continued. Two teams are just about to set up a start-up. The HACK AND HARVESTHackathon pushed their idea forward thanks to mentors and difference perspectives.

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