The training provided is been conducted within the ECHO project. This project has received funding by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 830943

Module 1

ECHO Hackathon Guide

Read the detailed guide to prepare for the event 

The ECHO Hackathon Guide has been published as part of the research work done within the ECHO project. Here you will find a distilled version, with its highlights. It is structured on the basis of all events' timeline: before, during and after the event. We have also added a FAQ section to address recurring questions. Click on each tab/button below to learn more.

Before event
During event
after event

Before the event

Learn more about roles, problem statements, setting up groups and getting ready for the event.
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The key to a successful event is to understand the different roles:

-Coordinator: The coordinator is responsible for the overall coordination for event and has a vested interest in its outcome. He or she sets the date, ensures that facilitators are identified and participants are invited. 

-Organiser: The organiser is responsible for guiding the event: he or she is the one who takes the floor during the Introduction and the Closing of the event and guides the Plenary Discussion. He or she acts both as the one who ensures that structural and organisational aspects of the evens are taken care of and respected, and as the one who has a deep insight on how the outcome of the event can benefit its aims.

-Facilitator: the facilitator is responsible for guiding the discussion among the participants on innovative ideas during the event. For every group of participants at least one facilitator is required.

-Participant:  shares his/her ideas and views during the group discussions. He/she should understand the key issues that are being discussed and be able to contribute in a meaningful way to the discussions.

-Notetaker: the notetaker is responsible for recording the proceedings of the event. The note-taker does not get involved in facilitation or participation and is a mere observer to the event. 

Problem statements

Problem statements are the crux of the event, as it forms the working material for the hackathon/ideathon. A problem statement is the issue that the participants will focus on throughout the whole event. The development of the problem statements is the most crucial part of the event organisation as it determines its outcomes. Problem statements are identified in three steps:

-Having a clear idea of the aim and scope of the event;

-Determining the corresponding problem statements;

-Validating the problem statements' feasibility and quality.

Grouping of participants

After having identified the problem statements, the right participants must be invited, i.e. the ones that can meaningfully contribute to the problem statements. They should be grouped on the basis of their skills and expertise as well as their diversity - in order to avoid the 'group think'.


As soon as the participants are identified, some basic processes and documentation should be put in place:

-The “before-the event” registration questionnaire, where participants can sign up, find out the problem statements and submit their initial ideas;

-The preparation of the introductory presentations on the topic and on the format of the event;

-Preparing the venue (Microsoft Teams channels or physical venue) with supporting materials and tools to capture ideas.

During the event

Understand the flow of the event, how a sample agenda could look like and how to manage the idea generation. Below you will find information on how to structure the agenda, how to support the idea generation activities, how to facilitate the discussions and how to close the event. 
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Introductory presentations (15 min)

This section will help kicking off the event; it will serve as an introductory session that welcomes all attendees to the event, explains its context, aims, objectives and problem statements as well as the rules of the game (e.g. channels, code of conduct for the attendees and how attendees are grouped).

Group discussions (sprints of 45 minutes)

During the group discussion, the facilitator leads a key role in creating a safe space for participants to share ideas and dissenting opinions. Other key points in monitoring group discussions are to ensure that they proceed in accordance with the overall event schedule and that the conversation does not drift away from its focus. The following phases in the group discussion can be identified:

-Introductory circle: before the group starts to discuss, all attendees should introduce themselves (name, organisation) and their experience with the problem statements.

-Group work sprints: the participants’ discussions will give way to solve the problem statements by inputting various points of view and ideas. This can only be achieved by giving everyone the opportunity to take the floor.

-Group pitches: the facilitators should ensure that the group respect the schedule and that the group will have 10-minute spare time for drawing conclusions at the end of the session, in order to prepare for the groups pitch.

Feedback to the plenary (45 min)

After the end of the group discussions, all groups will join the plenary session. Each group's findings will be presented during the “Feedback to Circle”.  As an optional addition to the event schedule, an extra time-slot should be allotted for a Plenary Discussion among facilitators, which opens the floor for additional comments from participants.

Closing the event (15 minutes)

The event has come to an end; the organiser takes the floor by illustrating potential upcoming events or actions and draws the participants' attention to the feedback form. This questionnaire aims at collecting participants' suggestions to improve the event organisation.

After the event

Get to know what follow up actions are needed or suggested to be performed after the event has taken place. Remember, these are important steps since they will help you in archiving your goals and will support you in materialising the events outcomes in tangible results. 
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The feedback form

The Feedback Form is the key to evaluate the effectiveness of the event by taking into account attendees’ perception and thoughts. It helps in evaluating the events' success and provides insight to what parameters need to be altered for the next events (lessons identified).  The three-section structure of a sample questionnaire looks like this:

-Preparing the event Have you received the problem statements enough in advance to prepare yourself sufficiently? What can we do to improve the timeline? Were the problem statements clearly stated? What can be done to improve them?

-Running the event: did you find the hackathon/ideathon useful? Was the session’s length appropriate? Was the facilitator’s guidance useful? Were all participants heard? Was the venue optimal in terms of reaching its goals?

-Follow up on the event: Would you like to receive a summary of the results?  Will you incorporate the results in your work?


The coordinator and the organiser, together with the dissemination team, will decide about what follow up dissemination actions will be taken. Multiple options are available, such as an internal event report, a white paper or an item for a newsletter.

Further steps

The participants' feedback on the event will be analysed and used to:
(a) further refine the organisation of future events and;
(b) understand how effective the group discussions were in solving the problem statements.

Frequently asked questions

We have gathered here the answers to a number of frequently asked questions. Keep on asking!
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When should an ideathon take place and how long should it last?

Ideally, ideathons should take place in the early afternoon and the ideal time-slot to reserve for such events is 2.5 hours; make sure you contact the right people in your organisation for reserving this time-slot in the calendar. If you are organising an online event, just make sure there are enough breaks in between.

What discussions are suitable for organising an ideathon?

Ideathons are great for all possible discussions! You should just keep in mind that, given the fact that these events are aimed at generating ideas, you should not expect attendees to take up a task on the basis of the ideas that they shared. If you are looking for collaborators, we advise to organise a following workshop for this, acknowledging people that they will be tasked with a specific action.

Introductory presentations: who should present them and which is the right order?

Introductory presentations are generally given by the organiser. Our advise would be to take two different presentations: the first one is for introducing the topic and the second one is for allowing participants to familiarise with the ideathon event format (e.g., explaining the rules of the game and providing them with links to join the chatrooms). 

What to do if the attendance is higher/lower than expected?

Usually, more attendees show up without prior registration; when this happens, we do recommend to allow them to join the group of their choices as it does not affect the flow of the event. 

Note that the prior event registration is aimed at creating balanced groups. If there are many additional attendees, consider creating ad hoc groups, in order to not disrupt the previously carefully assembled groups.

Social media and articles: what can be posted?

The ECHO-project  ideathons event do follow the Chatham House rule; this means that the information gathered during the event can be shared, but not the identity or the affiliation of the speaker must not be revealed. When disseminating the outcomes of these event, we do recommend to avoid revealing who shared certain ideas and we recommend to peer-review articles and posts with facilitators before posting them.

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