Together for a better society.


The aim of the Hack for the Society challenge is to build and scale an operating model to increase dialogue between political decision-makers and researchers, exchange of information, and shared problem-solving.

What do we do?

Hack for Society builds a concrete and needed meeting place and time between the worlds of academia and politics. It promotes cooperation between research and decision-making with the help of a social hackathon by working together to develop concrete solutions to social challenges that interest the participants.

In a month-long intensive and facilitated joint development process teams comprising politicians, researchers, and students solve challenges based on research. At the same time participants accumulate learning about sharing development, fast experiments, and design thinking as tools in problem-solving.

The aim is to conceptualise the Hack for Society operating model in such a way that it can be implemented in a versatile fashion both at the municipal and regional level, and in national decision-making.

What is a hackathon?

The term hackathon is derived from the words hacking and marathon. The word historically refers to programming marathons. However, nowadays the term is used in various ways to describe different types of ”new development” with tight, limited schedules. Read more about the social hackathon here.

Where have we got to so far?

The first Hack for Society challenge was carried out in the autumn of 2017 in Helsinki. Teams were formed in the project comprising researchers and students at the University of Helsinki and local politicians of the City of Helsinki. The teams worked together intensively in the autumn of 2017 for about a month. The work of the groups was supported through guided workshops, by having them confront other key players involved in the topic of each team (for example civil servants, enterprises, or organisations), and by implementing small-scale experiments with them.

In September 2017 a final event was arranged in which the solutions produced by the teams were presented.. The challenge was won by the solution of the Rehabilitation of those with memory disorders team in which memory disorders, which are constantly on the increase, and which have been nearly forgotten in public discourse, are made visible through an observational exhibition.

The hackathon, which took place in Helsinki, serves as a backdrop and a base for the further development of the concept. Read more about the implementation and results of the first challenge here: Hack for Society pähkinänkuoressa (Hack for Society in a nutshell – in Finnish).

Who is participating?

Serving as coordinator of the first Hack for Society challenge was the University of Helsinki and the practical implementation was the work of Helsinki Think Company. The challenge was implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Culture, Experimental Finland, the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, and the e2 think tank.

At Sitra the project is being carried out as part of the Knowledge in decision-making project.


Helsinki Think Company is responsible for the implementation of Hack for Society. Read the latest news and watch the specific schedule for the Hack on the challenge’s website (in Finnish)!


Let’s talk!

Eeva Hellström
Senior Lead, Tomorrow’s economy
Hannu-Pekka Ikäheimo
Project Director, New forms of participation

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