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HaSI (Higher Education hacks Social Innovation) is a research project exploring hackathons as a means for sensibilizing universities, their staff and students for social innovation and perspectives of social entrepreneurship. In this pilot, we experiment with the possibilities and challenges of research-guided teaching to introduce students to hackathons as a method for innovation and creativity, and inspire social innovation projects within and around the campus.

To that end, an introductory class on science and philosophy of creativity, innovation, social innovation, and hackathon culture has been taught at the European New School of Digital Studies / European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder). Students of that class have organized their own hackathon event with the help and supervision of their teacher. The results and impact of the project is being assessed by a survey of the hackathon outcomes themselves and students’ social innovation aptitude.

HaSI is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under funding reference No 16GDIN52.

Project  Start: 15 August 2023
Duration: 10 Months
Funding: 50.000 EUR


Prof. Dr. Jan-Hendrik Passoth

Professor for Sociology of Technology

Peter Kahlert

PhD Researcher




On 15 February 2024, we celebrated our Innovatathon, Viadrina’s first social innovation event! It has been a great success. 113 % of our 15 registered participants showed up (that’s 17!), which is indeed an extraordinary performance for this kind of event. Our Innovatathonists showed great creative potential, rendering it a delightful and fun day of inspiration and exchange, at the coffeetable, pizza roundtable, other round and edgy tables. All projects, being ideated or progressing at the event, have benefitted from mutual feedback and the collaborative spirit of engaging with issues of everyday, social life.

We have proposed four topical tracks for the Innovatathon:

Viadrina as a Place of International Study

Embark on a journey to redefine the academic and social landscape for international students at Viadrina University. Imagine a campus where diverse backgrounds converge seamlessly, where every international student feels deeply integrated and valued. From navigating new cultural terrains to finding a sense of belonging. Are you ready to brainstorm solutions that bridge gaps, foster inclusivity, and enhance the overall student experience? Join us at Viadrinathon! It's more than just an event; it's a platform to connect, create, and contribute to a more welcoming and dynamic university environment.

Cleaner City Frankfurt (Oder)

A healthy and sustainable environment is a clean one. This track challenges you to rethink recycling, upcycling, waste avoidance and logistics, find new, low-threshold ways of monitoring air quality, support neighborhoods, and keep nature and streets free of rubbish. What policies do we need, and what knowledge do we need to develop and keep track with an agenda for a healthier life in the town? Join the Innovatathon and be/come a part of this endeavor for your environment!

Bordertown Frankfurt (Oder)/ Słubice

Frankfurt (Oder) / Słubice is a border town, a place rendered by stories of commuting, internationalism, and blending cultures and languages. Such a place works best, when people, things, and services are drawn together. Do you have an innovative idea to smoothen passing the border, bringing people together, and make culture and communication available and connected for people visiting, staying, and living in Frankfurt? Meet others like you at Viadrina’s Social Innovatathon, enjoy a day with interesting people and amazing projects, find a team, share and develop your ideas further – you make the difference!

Feminist & Queer Social Innovation

Feminist & Queer Social Innovation represents a pioneering approach to problem-solving and societal change. This topic places a strong emphasis on inclusivity, diversity, and equity within innovation processes. It challenges traditional norms and seeks to address complex issues through a lens that prioritizes the voices and perspectives of marginalized communities, particularly those in the LGBTQ+ and feminist movements. By embracing a more holistic and intersectional view of social innovation, this topic aims to create solutions that not only tackle immediate challenges but also dismantle systemic inequalities, fostering a more just and inclusive future. Join the creation of safe spaces, support systems, and campaigns to make, shape, and show differences!

Seven projects grew in this environment of togetherness, proposing solutions and interventions such as a cloth sharing platform to foster sustainable fashion, community cafés providing spaces for specific food cultures and ecological structures for recycling, alternative waste polymerization instead of usual ways of waste separation, friend finding apps connecting people in Frankfurt and Słubice, a gender studies app closing gaps in educational resources on your phone, digital skill and literacy trainings, and an open art festival for encounters between people – which has won the HaSI trophy and is now being supported by Viadrina’s cultural office.

The range of projects in scope and entrepreneurial or civil vision shows how the Innovatathon is not only sensibilizing for social innovation, but introducing an understanding for social innovation that contemplates more than a business polishing, but a mission without drift and a drive from purpose: contributing to another, a better future by imagining and manifesting new social practices and ways of interacting. It has been our goal to open a space for minds to open for different ideas towards participating in the creation and designs of futures to come. In the words of HaSI’s PI and ENS Director Jan-Hendrik Passoth: “Social innovation is solving problems which we otherwise would accept”.

Each project has been invited to receive further support by Viadrina’s start up center whose representatives were also impressed by the quality and vigor of the Innovatathons participants and projects.

Overall, Viadrina’s first social innovation event has been an outstanding success. Hence, the Innovatathon does have reason to look at a bright future and we want to continue the Social Innovation Hacks class and have another, second, third, and more social innovation event at Viadrina! We have learned a lot and many ideas what to keep and change for the next time, to provide an even better experience for our future innovatathonists and their projects.

For the Innovatathon’s amazing introduction we owe thanks to all supporters, formal ones such as the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), and the many others, more or less formal, more or less tacit and loud supporters. Most of all, we thank all participants for making the event possible and meaningful! You have all been wonderful and made our efforts more than worthwhile with your projects, motivation, and feedback. We are also grateful for the Viadrina Founders Center offering further support to the projects and for taking a place in the ranks of the event’s jury. We owe thanks to the participants of the Social Innovation Hacks class who contributed many efforts and materials for the event, its creation, campaign, and content, as organizers, participants, or jury member. Special thanks to Lava from Lava Art Café and Johannes Filter for sharing their precious time and their stories and mentor our participants with regards to running a business, getting involved with activism and civil society organizations, or whenever our particpants needed some guidance or advice with regards to arts or software development. We thank the ENS and its Coworking Space administration for their smooth support by means of space, outreach and ideas. A very special thanks goes to our student assistant Charlotte Mende who helped with the event’s facilitation even though working intensively over the weeks before creating a powerful campaign promoting the event and the spirit of social innovation. If you haven’t seen the Innovatathon’s campaign content on Instagram (@viadrinathon) you can and should still check it out. We will also keep you updated and hyped for social innovation on that channel. You can also still follow #projectHaSI on mastodon and revisit this project website.

 So long, see you next time, stay social, keep innovating!

Innovathathon - Code of Conduct

Working together

  • We hear each other out
  • We support each other, it is no leave-them-behind-competition
  • Never mock someone for their failure, but help them back on their feet
  • There are no bad or stupid ideas, only needs for discussion and critique
  • Don’t be just a social innovator, be a sociable person
  • Respect others, their opinions, and needs, and how they want to be addressed

Interacting with each other

  • We respect each others’ boundaries (physically and psychologically)
  • We respect every no and every act of rejection
  • We do not tolerate any form of violence, discrimination, or any other behaviour that may be considered harmful, abusive, etc.

By being at the Innovatathon, you agree to comply with this code of conduct and help us providing a safe space for everyone and every idea to grow. If you feel someone broke this code of conduct, do not hesitate to get in touch with the organizing team. You can do so also discretely. We will always take you seriously!

Innovathathon - Mini FAQ

What is the Innovatathon?

The Innovatathon is Viadrina’s Social Innovation Event. It is an event to spark, foster, and channel creativity for the common good and projects of public value. Create and develop your ideas, find like-minded companions in your community, and be part of future worlds to come. The Innovatathon is an event that allows you to think in new directions and start ideation. It is a platform to develop and prototype projects you only had in mind long enough.

What is social innovation? While innovation disrupts industries and markets, social innovation disrupts the everyday life and fossilized routines of society. Hence, social innovation is often associated with social entrepreneurship and impact, social innovation is the idea of shaping society by being innovative. Whether this happens by means of enterprise, activism, campaigning, politics, organization, art, culture, or personal action is up to you.

 The Innovatathon offers four different tracks to join and explore: 1) on studying at Viadrina, especially as an international student, 2) on commuting, bordercrossing, and multiculturalism, 3) on waste management, cleanliness, livability in Frankurt’s city and nature, and 4) about queer and feminist social innovation. You did think about something else? That’s fine, all ideas are welcome.

How does the Innovatathon work?

You do not need a big idea or ready-at-hand mock-up. The Innovatathon is a place to meet your future project partners, but it is also a place to learn about challenges, try out creative methods, and get in touch with institutions and funders who can help you make your ideas reality.

Who can participate in the Innovatathon?

Everyone who wants to be inspired or act upon their inspiration, or both. Only requirement is registration. All skills and experiences are welcome. Whether you are a student or early career researcher, whether you are studying or working at Viadrina does not matter. All that does matter is that you are interested in thinking about social innovation and that you are willing to share your ideas and skills with your team and others. You do not need to be a designer, engineer, developer, entrepreneur, artist,  politician, or philosopher, but to be you – someone to be/come a social innovator!

Why should I participate in the Innovatathon?

Because you want to contribute to a positive change, to win awards or even the unique Innovatathon trophy “HaSI”, to learn from and about others, to enjoy free snacks and beverages, or to simply enjoy yourself. To find your big idea or find support for your project. Maybe also to add another certificate of attendance to your CV. There are so many more reasons to join the Innovatathon, so what are you waiting for?

When does the Innovatathon take place?

The next Innovatathon is planned for 2025.

Where does the Innovatathon take place?

The next Innovatathon is planned to take place at the Coworking Space of the European New School of Digital Studies (ENS) at Collegium Polonicum: Kościuszki 1, 69-100 Słubice, Poland.