In Depth: DementiaHack

I’ve covered Hacker Nest on a couple of occasions in the past, and I’ve found them to be a very interesting bunch of people who are focused on building local tech communities around the world. But they also are all about making a difference. One way they are doing that is with their second annual DementiaHack. What is DementiaHack? It’s the world’s foremost hackathon dedicated to helping those affected by dementia. Presented by Facebook and supported by the UK government, the event will bring together some of the brightest, most dedicated minds in healthcare and technology to develop new and innovative products that improve the lives of people living with dementia and their caregivers.

Clearly this isn’t your typical hackathon.

Last Saturday, I attended the DementiaHack workshop which provided a platform for some of the most dedicated minds in healthcare and technology to discuss issues facing dementia sufferers and their caregivers, in advance of DementiaHack which will be held in Toronto on November 7 – 9, 2015. While I was there, I got to speak to three people about DementiaHack and why their organizations were involved in this effort:

  • Shaharris Beh, Founder and CEO of HackerNest: “Most hackathons don’t focus on the aftermath. It’s so pivotally important that what people build actually gets into the hands of the people that it can benefit. This is why all of our prizing really emphasizes the fact that we want a company to emerge out of DementiaHack and not just a project.”
  • Chris Dennis, CEO Of The Alzheimer Society of Ontario: “Why would you not support something that is essentially making life easer for those who care for them?” and “Anything that you can do to make life easier, reduce hospitalizations, is a huge factor.”
  • Kevin McGurgan: British Consul General: “When the team sat down here and thought, sort of hard about this. Canada and the UK both have excellent reputations for looking and science and technology through innovation. We wanted to do something different beyond the usual let’s get some people to talk around a table about the problem, share some experiences, and write a paper. How do we create something that will catch people’s attention, innovative and fun, draw in the next generation, and we’ll look back after 36 hours and say gosh we’ve surprised ourselves by what we achieved. We should do a hackathon.”

My observations of the workshop show that Hacker Nest is really serious about not only handling this issue with sensitivity, but making sure that the participants are in a position to produce something that will truly make a difference. That’s different than pretty much every other hackathon where you give a bunch of participants all the Red Bull they can drink and wait for something that’s cool to a limited amount amount of people. Thus I think DementiaHack will make a huge difference in a multiple areas.

If you want to learn more about DementiaHack, please watch this video and lend your support towards this important event:

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