Rapid crowdsourced innovation for COVID-19 response and economic growth
Publication

Rapid crowdsourced innovation for COVID-19 response and economic growth

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected life worldwide. Governments have been faced with the formidable task of implementing public health measures, such as social distancing, quarantines, and lockdowns, while simultaneously supporting a sluggish economy and stimulating research and development (R&D) for the pandemic. Catalyzing bottom-up entrepreneurship is one method to achieve this. Home-grown efforts by citizens wishing to contribute their time and resources to help have sprouted organically, with ideas shared widely on the internet. We outline a framework for structured, crowdsourced innovation that facilitates collaboration to tackle real, contextualized problems. This is exemplified by a series of virtual hackathon events attracting over 9000 applicants from 142 countries and 49 states. A hackathon is an event that convenes diverse individuals to crowdsource solutions around a core set of predetermined challenges in a limited amount of time. A consortium of over 100 partners from across the healthcare spectrum and beyond defined challenges and supported teams after the event, resulting in the continuation of at least 25% of all teams post-event. Grassroots entrepreneurship can stimulate economic growth while contributing to broader R&D efforts to confront public health emergencies.

Video

MIT Virtual Alumni Leadership Conference: Mind, Hand, and Heart – MIT Alumni Stories of Inspiration

In a lightning talk format, alumni and postdocs from various MIT schools, departments, and class years will share personal stories of finding inspiration and taking action during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. Speakers will discuss topics that include MIT Hacking COVID, interdisciplinary research and design, producing and distributing PPEs, supporting nonprofits, and an ambitious project that aims to turn motorcycles into lifesaving devices.

MIT News: 3Q: Addressing structural racism in health care as an innovation opportunity
News

MIT News: 3Q: Addressing structural racism in health care as an innovation opportunity

MIT News – Institute Community and Equity Office (ICEO) – October 9, 2020

Far-reaching effects of structural racism can be seen in all facets of American life. This year, as Americans witnessed widespread demonstrations stemming from racial injustice at the hands of officers in law enforcement, a ground swell of conversations about race and pleas for action emerged.

One area in which racism has had significant effects is health care equity, a fact that has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. In light of current events, members of the MIT community involved in the successful hackathons MIT Covid-19 Challenge and MIT Hacking Medicine sought to explore the role of racism embedded in U.S. health care structures. More specifically, how could they tear down racism in health care using proven hackathon methodology traditionally applied to other complex health care problems?

Slice of MIT: Hundreds of Teams Converge Online for MIT Covid-19 Challenge Hackathons
News

Slice of MIT: Hundreds of Teams Converge Online for MIT Covid-19 Challenge Hackathons

Slice of MIT – Ken Shulman – September 23, 2020

It was early March 2020. The US and the world were bracing for the outbreak of a dangerous viral pandemic. Most members of the MIT community had left the campus and returned to their homes—many of them to homes abroad. For Alfonso Martinez MBA ’20 and Freddy T. Nguyen, the Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science and a pathology resident at Mount Sinai Hospital, there was only one logical response: a hackathon.

“We had an impending pandemic that was going to create myriad problems across the globe,” says Nguyen, a co-organizer, along with Martinez, of the MIT Covid-19 Challenge. Since March, the MIT community-led initiative has staged seven hackathons addressing the pandemic. “We needed to define the problems facing us and create a structure that could produce solutions quickly. At the same time, we had hundreds of our people with mad skills confined to their homes with nowhere to apply those skills. From our perspective, a hackathon was a no-brainer.”

By Every Measure – Explores the Undeniable Data of Systemic Racism: Episode 6 – Health
Podcast

By Every Measure – Explores the Undeniable Data of Systemic Racism: Episode 6 – Health

By Every Measure – 88Nine Radio Milwaukee – Tarik Moody – 

In “By Every Measure,” 88Nine Radio Milwaukee’s (WYMS-88.9 FM) new podcast, award-winning data expert and research journalist Reggie Jackson and 88Nine’s Director of Digital Strategy & Innovation Tarik Moody explore systemic racism in various sectors of Milwaukee, looking closely at how those systems were formed and how they can – and need – to be changed.

Episode 6 – Health: With a global pandemic as the backdrop, hosts Tarik Moody and Reggie Jackson analyze health disparities Black people face in America, including bias in healthcare, infant mortality and COVID-19. Then, Tarik assembles a panel of experts from MIT, Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin and the City of Milwaukee Health Department to examine possible solutions.

Publication

MIT COVID-19 Datathon: data without boundaries

The COVID-19 virus is a formidable global threat, impacting all aspects of society and exacerbating the existing inequities of our current social systems. As we battle the virus across multiple fronts, data are critical for understanding this disease and for coordinating an effective global response. Given the current digitisation of so many aspects of life, we are amassing data that can be extrapolated and analysed for the effective forecasting, prevention and treatment of COVID-19. With responsible stewardship, the tools and data-driven solutions currently in development for the COVID-19 pandemic will serve in the present while providing a much-needed foundation for a data-based response to future outbreaks and disasters.

In response to COVID-19, and using data generated thus far, groups at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts, Google Cloud, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) Innovations Group and Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at BIDMC came together to host the MIT Challenge COVID-19 Datathon (COVID-19 Datathon) from 10–16 May 2020. A ‘datathon’ adopts the ‘hackathon’ model, with a focus on data and data science methodologies, which promotes collaboration, design thinking and problem solving. In a typical hackathon, participants with disparate but complementary backgrounds work together in small groups for a prescribed and intensive ‘sprint’, typically over the course of one weekend, to develop a new concept, product or business idea. Subject matter expert ‘mentors’’ oversee and advise the teams. At the conclusion of the event, the teams present to a panel of judges. Winners are selected and are typically awarded seed funding. Datathons differ from hackathons in that the output is data analysis. MIT Critical Data, one of the organising groups of the COVID-19 Datathon, has hosted 36 international healthcare datathons.

“The People Who Develop a Ventilator that Costs $40,000 Are Probably Not the Best People to Go to to Make that Ventilator cost $400”
Podcast

“The People Who Develop a Ventilator that Costs $40,000 Are Probably Not the Best People to Go to to Make that Ventilator cost $400”

Ken Gordon – EPAM Continuum – June 25, 2020 – The Resonance Test 49: Dr. Freddy T. Nguyen and Duncan Freake

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a test for innovators. The immense challenges of the situation have called for fast, scalable solutions—and two of the more prominent approaches have come to the fore: open source and crowdsource. In this episode of The Resonance Test, we interrogate some people who’ve played essential roles here. Dr. Freddy T. Nguyen, Co-Director of the MIT COVID-19 Challenge, Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT, and a Pathology Resident at Mount Sinai Hospital, has done tremendous work convening teams from across the globe to crowdsource pandemic-related innovation. His conversation partner is EPAM Continuum’s Duncan Freake, a mechanical engineer who is one of the brains behind the GENTL Mask, our open source design that employs readily available materials and a simple manufacturing process to enable localized manufacturing. Our Ken Gordon peppers the duo with questions and gets some really interesting responses, giving us an important look at how partnerships, humility, and especially networks functioned in their pandemic projects. “The value of a network is really investing in good people who have the right spirit and the right motivations,” says Dr. Nguyen—and we think that these words are not just true: They aptly describe both himself and Duncan.

US, NL unite virtually to take on COVID-19
News

US, NL unite virtually to take on COVID-19

Mart Duitemeijer – June 17, 2020

Key stakeholders who work in the field of life sciences and health in Massachusetts and the Netherlands came together in a virtual session June 8 to discuss how their ecosystems are responding to COVID-19, which lessons could be learned from the reaction to the pandemic, and how to stimulate closer international collaboration.

Participants of the conversations agree that there will always be a need to collaborate internationally and make use of each other’s strengths. If all strengths from different countries or ecosystems could be brought together, this will create a stronger value chain where collaboration between partners is needed and truly adds value.

When looking ahead, participants recognize that in a post-COVID world, we should be better prepared for a possible outbreak of a pandemic. That we need to be ready to think and act together, internationally, so we can organize the supply chain and share data and expertise when needed.

COVID-19 Hackathon: Common Goals, Uncommon Solutions
News

COVID-19 Hackathon: Common Goals, Uncommon Solutions

Bayer – May 15, 2020

A medical face shield that monitors doctors digitally for signs of getting sick. A virtual waiting room app to help avoid spreading coronavirus germs among patients. A quick at-home kit with computerized support that could help consumers test and track their immune systems for antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19. Bayer colleagues work across divisions, continents in COVID-19 hackathon.

These are just a few of the ideas developed by Bayer employees at a recent coronavirus hackathon put on by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and sponsored in part by Bayer’s crop science division, which had so many interested employees it held a spillover extension hackathon complete with its own judging and awards.

While scientists around the world are working to find ways to fight the coronavirus, dozens of experts from Bayer participated in the hackathon to help develop fast, implementable solutions to help slow the spread of the virus and the disease it causes.

MIT News: MIT builds community for the Africa Takes On Covid-19 challenge
News

MIT News: MIT builds community for the Africa Takes On Covid-19 challenge

MIT News – Stuart P. Krusell | MISTI | MIT Sloan Global Programs | Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship – May 14, 2020

It all started, like so many things recently, with a Zoom call.

David Capodilupo, assistant dean for MIT Sloan Global Programs (GP); Bill Carter, award-winning filmmaker, author, teacher, and MIT consultant; and Stu Krusell, senior director at GP, were discussing what they could do to support the fight against Covid-19 in Africa. The need was immense. They talked about leveraging the vast network and resources of MIT to help those on the ground in Africa fighting the virus. The question was: How do you bring lots of people together to address this problem? The answer they decided on: a virtual hackathon.

Video

Wide Field: Hacking COVID-19 Solutions for Africa

Host Vivian Kobusingye Birchall chatted with Stuart Krusell, Senior Director of Global Programs at MIT Sloan School of Management; Ari Jacobovits, Managing Director for Africa, MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives; postdoctoral fellow Freddy Nguyen and MBA candidates Benjamin Boutboul and Mercy Ndambuki, about the recently concluded MIT COVID-19 Challenge including solutions created and different ways industry, the public sector innovators and development partners can get involved.

Video

MIT COVID-19 Challenge – Beat The Pandemic

1500 participants and 250 mentors from around the world came together from April 3 – 5 to help tackle some of the most pressing issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 48 hours, 199 potential solutions were developed virtually. See how the 2nd event in the MIT COVID-19 Challenge came together!

How a Few MIT Students Produced One of the Best Hackathons on Covid-19

True Africa – Claude Grunitzky – May 04, 2020

42% of people in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than $1.90 a day. As the pandemic slowly progresses throughout the continent, with most of the 35,000+ Covid-19 cases concentrated in North Africa and South Africa, a group of MIT students decided to host an “Africa Takes on Covid-19” challenge last weekend. It was the third in a series of MIT-led hackathons designed to create solutions to address critical needs during the Covid-19 crisis.

More than 200 participating teams were selected though the https://covid19challenge.mit.edu application website, with collectives from around the world—drawing from universities, industry, government, and NGOs, among others—volunteering to help create tech driven solutions to address the most critical unmet needs caused by the Covid-19 outbreak across the continent.

MIT and VA Partner for COVID-19 Hackathon: Finding solutions through collaboration and innovation
News

MIT and VA Partner for COVID-19 Hackathon: Finding solutions through collaboration and innovation

Veterans Health Adminstration – Matthew Razak – April 23, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic requires innovative thinking and problem solving right now. Hackathons are a powerful tool to address these challenges. Earlier this month, VA partnered with MIT and a host of other organizations to put on the MIT COVID-19 Challenge “Beat the Pandemic” Hackathon.

Over 1,400 innovators – leaders in academia, industry and healthcare – came together virtually to develop, design, and solve the most pressing problems facing both vulnerable populations and the health care systems taking care of them.

Powerful display of collaboration and innovation

Winning solutions included:
– a telehealth platform that can help monitor COVID-19 patients in their home self-assessment triaging for patients at home
– a way for multiple patients to use a single ventilator
– a platform that connects those in quarantine with livestreams across the country
– a platform that delivers the latest innovations and medical advice to help hospitals navigate the crisis
– a method for disseminating COVID-19 information to rural clinicians more rapidly

“It was a powerful display of incredible collaboration and innovation in the collective fight against a common enemy. I left the weekend with a newfound hope in our ability to not just help the Veterans we serve but beat the pandemic entirely,” said Suzanne Shirley, VHA Director of Partnerships & Community Engagement.

Pursuing User Research When Everyone’s in Quarantine
News

Pursuing User Research When Everyone’s in Quarantine

Timothy Berendt, Contributing Columnist and former Director of Innovation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mass. April 21, 2020

Many innovators are struggling with a big question right now: How do you maintain the quality and breadth of your user research when it seems the whole world is under house arrest due to coronavirus? We all know that the innovation and design world rely on interactions with customers and users, through activities like empathy, anthropology, focus groups, and testing. So how do you preserve that input into your process when everybody is locked down?

It’s an ideal moment for getting your team to embrace new tools and approaches. A few examples…

Video

MIT’s COVID-19 Challenge ‘Beat the Pandemic’ Virtual Hackathon

At the beginning of April BCGDV partnered with MIT on their virtual hackathon series ‘Beat the Pandemic’ as part of their COVID-19 challenge. DV’ers from all over the world took part in the 48 hour virtual hackathon that aimed to tackle the most critical problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Co-Director of the ‘COVID-19 Challenge’, Freddy Nguyen, sat down (remotely) with BCGDV Partner, Nate Beyor after the event. They discussed the origin story of the hackathon series and Freddy explained how he mobilized 4500 brilliant minds from 96 countries to apply to take part. They also touch on how this global crisis has accelerated innovation at an incredible speed and examine how some of these changes may play a part long after this crisis has ended.

Wall Street Journal: Hackathons Target Coronavirus: Participants tackle global problems from the shortage of ventilators to how to enforce social distancing
News

Wall Street Journal: Hackathons Target Coronavirus: Participants tackle global problems from the shortage of ventilators to how to enforce social distancing

Wall Street Journal – Agam Shah – April 9, 2020

Thousands of technology enthusiasts and others are flocking to a new wave of hackathons created to fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The low-sleep, high-octane sessions have attracted participants world-wide to team up online and suggest solutions to problems such as the equipment shortage for health providers or a better way to track the spread of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

“Everyone is looking at the urgency of the situation,” said Youseph Yazdi, executive director at Johns Hopkins Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design, which organized a five-day hackathon in the last week of March that attracted 513 teams with 2.331 applicants from 34 countries.

That hackathon was around thematic areas including how to communicate effectively about Covid-19, prevention of transmission within communities and health-care equipment shortages.

Podcast

MIT Catalysts: Freddy Nguyen

Hosted by Julia Yoo – April 7, 2020

In the first of a special series about MIT community members on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, host Julia Yoo sits down with Dr. Freddy Nguyen, a postdoctoral fellow at MIT and a resident physician at Mount Sinai Hospital. Nguyen talks about the MIT COVID19 Challenge and being on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York.

AbelsonTaylor partners with the MIT COVID19 Challenge 48 Hour Hackathon

AbelsonTaylor – Danielle Jamil – April 7, 2020

The MIT COVID-19 Challenge came to life last weekend. The 48-hour virtual event hosted 1,500 hackers and created 238 teams to address COVID-19 challenges within 10 focus tracks. Participants came from over 96 countries and 49 states, each dealing with different stages of COVID-19 in their communities and made for a richly diverse array of proposed solutions.

Partners, sponsors and over 250 volunteer mentors worked the weekend to provide research and development resources to teams throughout. “The spirit of a healthcare hack is about democratizing innovation. We realize the potential of design thinking and distributive problem solving as a way to incite entrepreneurship. We want to help bring new approaches to some of the hardest human challenges.”, said Freddy Nguyen, MD, PHD, Co-Director MIT COVID-19 Challenge.

As a resident at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, Freddy is on the front lines of the global health pandemic. With only 3 weeks to plan, he and co-organizers Alfonso Martinez, Stephanie MacConnell, Paul Cheek realized that there was a serious need to initiate a virtual hackathon to address the current crisis, and the idea for the MIT COVID-19 Challenge was born.

Mobi Health News: New COVID-19 challenge out of MIT seeks solutions from hackers at home
News

Mobi Health News: New COVID-19 challenge out of MIT seeks solutions from hackers at home

Mobi Health News – Laura Lovett – April 06, 2020

The new MIT COVID-19 Challenge: Beat the Pandemic is a series of hackathons and digital events focused on coming up with ways to address the virus

With stay at home orders dominating the news cycle, many are looking for ways to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic from home. A group out of MIT is looking to remedy this with a way for various stakeholders to get involved.

Over the weekend, MIT COVID-19 Challenge: Beat the Pandemic hosted the first in a series of virtual hackathons and events aimed at designing new tools to address the virus.

Six Questions with MIT Hacking Medicine’s Freddy Nguyen
News

Six Questions with MIT Hacking Medicine’s Freddy Nguyen

MIT Hacking Medicine started small in 2011 but today its Grand Hack event in April attracts over 400 people from all over the world. What is it about this event and the Massachusetts digital health ecosystem that attracts so many people to Cambridge every year? We talked with MIT Hacking Medicine’s Freddy Nguyen to learn more about how this event started, how it has grown, and what we can expect at this year’s event in April.

MIT News: Yearlong hackathon engages nano community around health issues Hacking Nanomedicine kicks off a series of events to develop an idea over time.
News

MIT News: Yearlong hackathon engages nano community around health issues Hacking Nanomedicine kicks off a series of events to develop an idea over time.

MIT News – MIT.nano – August 9, 2019

A traditional hackathon focuses on computer science and programming, attracts coders in droves, and spans an entire weekend with three stages: problem definition, solution development, and business formation.

Hacking Nanomedicine, however, recently brought together graduate and postgraduate students for a single morning of hands-on problem solving and innovation in health care while offering networking opportunities across departments and research interests. Moreover, the July hackathon was the first in a series of three half-day events structured to allow ideas to develop over time.