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CEMEX Hackathon in Cambridge

last modified Feb 27, 2018 09:52 AM
Dr Myrna Flores, from CEMEX, reports on the the first CEMEX Hackathon in Cambridge, in which members of the Alliance staff took part. It was a successful example of Open and Lean Innovation best practices.

Open Innovation looks forward to identifying complex business challenges to co-develop solutions in a collaborative way, bridging problems to external ideas to fuel the innovation process. The first CEMEX Hackathon carried out at the University of Cambridge in UK on February 9 and 10, provided the perfect setting and space to mobilize and inspire 101 participants to propose out-of-the-box ideas and co-create solutions, by applying the Design Thinking and Lean Innovationpractices. 

This is the first time CEMEX organizes a Hackathon and, to do so, the CEMEX leaders’ vision embraced the strong interaction of employees coming from different countries and roles with graduate students and innovation experts from academia, where fast-learning cycles enabled by quick feedback loops, empowered the teams to fail fast and improve their prototypes in an impressive way. 

Ten innovation and Design Thinking experts from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), University of Cambridge, Cranfield University, London School of Economics (LSE) and the Lean Analytics Association (LAA) were assigned teams to be facilitated with the Design Thinking methodology, ensuring these latter stayed focused to solve the challenge with a human-centric approach. Visual communication was also a key lean ingredient in engaging the teams to build their prototype during the hackathon. Three artists from StarFish Taylor helped the teams visualize their ideas.

CEMEX Hackathon

During these two intensive days, all participants showed their passion for innovation, collaborating within teams which were intentionally composed by diverse functions and countries, balancing the number of employees and students. Indeed, diversity was the key to its success!

Beyond winning a monetary award, teams were triggered to further co-develop and implement the winning solution in CEMEX. All teams were open to learning and applying creatively different prototyping techniques to pitch their first minimum viable product in just a few hours. Adrenaline rose on the second day, when teams were requested to complete their final prototype in only 3 hours.

But organizing the Hackathon was a challenge itself! The whole event was organized in five weeks. To manage the tight timeframe, the Lean Analytics Association (LAA) formed a Hackathon organization team composed by five CEMEX employees and experts from the four Universities mentioned above. 

In total, 104 participants were selected from more than 150 registrations received in only a few days to attend this first CEMEX Hackathon in Cambridge! The selection process was very tough; in the end, 34 students from the University of Cambridge, Cranfield University, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), ETH Zurich, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Imperial College London, The University of Manchester and University of East Anglia were selected to join the Hackathon. 

Six judges, three CEMEX senior employees and three innovation academic experts evaluated the resulting prototypes to deliver three winning awards: Michel André (CEMEX Country President UK), Fausto Sosa (CEMEX Head of Information Technology), Derek O’ Donnell (VP of HR for Europe & UK), Dr. Verónica Martínez (University of Cambridge), Dr. Leon Williams (Cranfield University) and Dr. Lourdes Sosa (London School of Economics). 

This is one of the most collaborative and innovative gatherings the Lean Analytics Association team has experienced so far. These fruitful results were possible thanks to the strong team collaboration and ongoing alignment of the progress during the 5 weeks. 

I sincerely thank CEMEX for its vision and commitment to organize this incredible event, in particular Michel André,  Derek O’ Donnell, Fausto Sosa, Martin Herrera, Alan Salinas, Carlos Briones and Orlando Valencia; the 101 employees and graduate students for their energy and passion for innovation; Peter Day and his team from StarFish Taylor for bringing ideas to life with their amazing graphic skills; the innovation experts from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), University of Cambridge, Cranfield University, London School of Economics and the Lean Analytics Association who facilitated the process during the two days: Prof. Christopher Tucci, Dr. Verónica Martínez, Dr. Mohamed Zaki, Dr. Lourdes Sosa, Dr. Ahmed Al-Ashaab, Dr. Leon Williams, Dr. Adriana Encinas-Oropesa, Matic Golob, Doroteja Maklin and Karina Flores and, last but certainly not least, Doroteja Maklin and Matic Golob from LAA who were the hands in Cambridge taking charge of the on-site logistics and much more. A big THANK YOU to all of you! 

Dr. Myrna Flores
LAA Founder and President

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