Social Storm Hackathon 2018 at Surrey

Social Storm brought together 95 students to tackle 2 global societal challenges in 24 hours at the University of Surrey this month.

The fifth annual Social Storm was held at Surrey’s Student Enterprise Cube on 9-10 November 2018 for 95 students from nine universities across Guyana, the UK, Belgium, Pakistan and Malaysia. Students in multinational teams collaborated for 24 hours to design, research and pitch solutions to two Sustainable Development Goals; SDG 4 Quality education and SDG14 Life below water.

This year’s winning idea from team ‘SeaBricks’ involved transforming plastic waste, collected in and around the Mediterranean into low cost and durable building materials. The winning students represented the University of East Anglia, University of Surrey and Artevelde University College Ghent. You can view their video pitch here.

Through events such as 24-hour hackathons, Social Storm facilitates the connection and collaboration of young people, businesses and non-for-profit organisations, to find innovative solutions to our global issues. The aim is to build a community of creative, passionate future leaders who will create innovative, disruptive and sustainable solutions to tackle the challenges we face globally.

We spoke to Marcos Varveris and Diana Nemyrovska, from the winning team:

“To start with, it was an amazing opportunity to work towards tackling SDG 14 (Life Below Water), while collaborating with like-minded people from around the world. After  our initial brainstorming and a lot of pivoting throughout the day, we settled on ”SeaBricks”, a business which focused on cleaning up plastic in and around the Mediterranean and turning it into eco-friendly building material.

Having our team spread out in different locations and the short time frame of the event made it a challenging but unique experience. In the business world we will face similar challenges, such as tight deadlines and coordinating with colleagues overseas, and Social Storm allowed us to experience this.

We all believe strongly in the cause and the business so we will have to see what paths we go down in life. Nevertheless, I would still like to pursue business ventures that can address SDG14 in the Mediterranean, where my home is.” Marcos Varveris

“I chose to work on the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life below water, as I feel very passionate about the state of our environment and would like to make a difference to change it for the better. My team consisted of three people from Belgium, two from University of East Anglia and Marcos and me from the University of Surrey. We all study different things and have different cultural backgrounds, which made it very interesting. Even though it also made it a bit difficult to agree on one solution, as we all had different ideas and visions.

By the end of the hackathon we were all very exhausted, but also very excited that we worked out a possible solution to the UN goal. Life below water. Overall, this event made me realise how pressing our environmental issues are, and how important it is for young people like us to come together.” Diana Nemyrovska

Surrey Business School’s Dr Stelvia Matos, commented:

“The students did an incredible job during the Social Storm event.  They engaged with other students from across the world to propose new business models that address SGD4 (quality education) and SDG14 (life below water). It was amazing to see how much they were able to achieve in under 24 hours!”

Social Storm is an organisation founded by enterprise educators, with the aim of connecting passionate enterprising young people to innovate on solutions to solve global issues. Find out more about Social Storm.