A version of this appeared on http://sarahpaddleswim.wordpress.com Simon Cocking specialises in covering Dublin tech / start up / innovation events. You can find him on Twitter @SimonCocking 

Selling the idea at the Hardware Hackathon was as important as building it

Sunday evening saw the conclusion of the 48 hour Hardware Hackathon event hosted by DCU Innovation Campus and PCH International.

Ten teams pitched on Sunday evening. This was really interesting to watch. It turned out that those teams that were the most successful were those that understood how they pitched their product was as important as the actual physical thing they had spent the last two days designing and building.

Starter kitArduino kit for all participants


Free kits given to all participants

At times this did make it feel a bit like being a member of the audience for Dragon’s Den, especially with the probing questions that came from the judges sitting in the front row. However this grilling by pitching and q & a actually made complete sense. In the interlude while the judges made their decision, there was a brief panel discussion took place including Liam Casey, Ben Harris, Will Prendergast and Philip Moynagh. Liam (PCH founder) and Will Prendergast (Irish VC funder), both emphasised selling the product was important as building it.


@Tracy_Keogh nailing the winning pitch on behalf of her team

As we watched the pitches it was clear that some teams really nailed this, while others didn’t. The best pitches made it really clear what the problem was, how they had fixed it, and what the potential market was for it. Pharmalytics were deserved winners of the overall award for several reasons. Firstly they identified a problem – if the fridge in a pharmacy breaks thousands of euros of products have to be thrown away. Two a solution. If we can notify the right people, this problem can be dealt with in time, saving lots of money, for a small amount of money. Three, and this was in many ways the most impressive part, they validated this business opportunity. Not by putting up projections of potential revenue to be made, which always seems a bit hypothetical. Instead, over the weekend, they tracked down the head of Boots, presented their concept to him. He was quickly convinced and wanted to discuss when and how he could buy their product!


Many of the other projects developed were interesting and had great potential, but Pharmalytics had deservedly won the day. Overall Liam Casey seemed pretty happy with how many interesting potential products had emerged, and it seems likely several have a great chance of making it to market. This was the first Hardware Hackathon in Ireland. It had sold out long before the weekend, and several people had flown in from other countries to be there. It seems like a safe bet to predict it won’t be the last one.


Here is a summary of all ten projects, (though they may still continue to adapt and evolve).

1. Safety helmet with integrated sensors to alert cyclists when vehicles too close and also with lights on the side to indicate turn left/right when tilting head.
2. Pharmacy fridge sensors to monitor temperature in the fridge and sends alerts to pharmacies. This saves them from checking them manually.
3. Motorbike helmets with  motorised visor connected to their gloves to open them.
4. Smart water tap – sensor to monitor water qualities and the particles in a cheap way, storing information in the cloud and data will be sold to organisations.
5. Product added to vending machines to accept contactless payments ie bitcoins and utilises loyalty point system.
6. A “smart clutch” for people (women initially) with Alzheimer’s and dementia, which then evolved into a tracking system for important things.
7. Wearable device for farm animals to monitor stock, to reduce losses and to improve quality of life of farmers.
8. Secure communications smoke  alarms. Aggregates data on buildings through sensors. Improves fire services control. Reduces fire casualty. Saves lives and property.
9. Device for bicycle handlebars. Connected to your smartphone and gives you signals when to turn left or right  to get you to your destination.
10. Temper tap – office climate temperature opimisation based on voting system of staff. Suitable for high density office environments ie call centres.

3D Printing

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