Global Social Storm Hackathon 2015

The Global Social Storm 24 hour Hackathon in 2015 (part of Global Entrepreneurship Week each November) was a great opportunity for students to gain experience in communicating internationally to find viable business solutions to global social issues. This year 167 students from 14 Universities around the world took on three Social Challenges over 24 hours to compete for a £900 cash prize.

The 24 hour Hackathon style event developed participating students’ experiences and confidence in problem solving, teamwork, using their initiative, viability consideration, market research, idea implementation and working around international differences, language barriers and other constraints in a timed environment to successfully convey their idea via a one page business plan and three minute video pitch.

The broad aims of Social Storm 2015 were:

1. To inspire participants by showcasing innovative businesses and projects tackling social challenges in a sustainable and financially viable ways. Social Storm is keen to show the power of social entrepreneurship!

2. To develop enterprise and employability skills and business knowledge.

3. To highlight the capabilities of technology, which is readily available and inexpensive, to start businesses and social projects.

Students taking part in Social Storm 2015 chose to produce a solution to one of three challenges announced on the day of the hackathon. The challenges stem from the UN Goals for sustainable development and look at renewable energy, gender equality and access to the internet.

Challenge 1: Renewable Energy - Greenpeace believe that by 2030, the world will be off its dependence on renewable energy. They predict a world fuelled by 100 per cent renewables. How can we achieve this goal on a global scale?

Challenge 2: Gender Equality - The UN aim to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Through the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, find a solution to promote the empowerment of women.

Challenge 3: - two thirds of the world is not connected to the internet - How can we provide universal and affordable access to the internet? How can we significantly increase access to information and communications technology to the other third?

By the end of the 24 hours, each team needed to submit:

  • A one page business plan summary of their product/service solution (size 11).
  • A three minute video pitch of their product/service solution.
  • A 250 word Foundation Statement about their team, including vision, values and how they overcame difficulties. This is marked separately.

The winners of Social Storm 2015 were:


Students learn a lot about working with other people, a key component of the 24 hours turns out to be learning to communicate with team members at other universities. Parts of a large team may have much stronger opinions on aspects of their solution than other members and teams work throughout the Hackathon to maintain understanding and agreement on their plan going forward. Compromise is another learning point that the competition highlights.

As a university, Plymouth University provided students with an opportunity where they could develop themselves through the challenging experience of overcoming language barriers to work together to develop innovative solutions to important global problems in a time constrained environment.

Social Storm is an organisation founded by enterprise educators from UEA, Plymouth and Loughborough University, all sharing the aim of connecting passionate, enterprising young people to create innovative solutions for global issues.  

Social Storm’s Co-founder, Helen Ots, said:

“We’re amazed at how much the teams achieved in under 24 hours, in developing an idea into a sustainable business model and pitch, and how many ideas they have to tackle challenges within their own society. We’re hopeful that a similar event in 2016 will bring even more universities and young people together.”

The 2015 Social Storm Hackathon proved to be a memorable and intense skills building event for participants. The three local Plymouth teams went away proud with the results of their solutions, research, time-pressured decision making and hard work during the intense 24 hours of the event. Their efforts over those 24 hours are an example to both themselves and others of what can be accomplished within a short space of time when individuals decide to make a dedicated effort to work together internationally to produce viable solutions.

If you are a student or university representative and are interested in getting involved in the 2016 Social Storm Hackathon, see the Social Storm website for more information.


If you are a student or university representative and are interested in getting involved in the 2016 Social Storm Hackathon, see the Social Storm website for more information.