IHDP Guest Blog: Public Health Product Forge

Published on: 16th March 2018

At the end of January, the Innovative Healthcare Delivery Programme (IHDP) sponsored a Product Forge event in Edinburgh for Public Health. We were there on the Friday to give voice to the IHDP endeavor and to make some collaborate connections. We also participated by sponsoring a participant, Thomas Parry, to attend the hackathon.

Thomas is currently taking the MRC Doctoral Training Programme (DTP) in Precision Medicine, a collaborative programme between the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. He thoroughly enjoyed the event and states he will be attending more hackathons in the future. Read about his experience below.

This was my first time at this type of event, a hackathon. Seldom do things turn out as I expect, in fact, overall, Product Forge was better than I expected.

I registered on the Friday (26th January) as a participant, where I was greeted by one of the mentors. I was asked what my main skill sets were to determine in which of the already formed teams I would be most beneficial. From there I joined team Sudden, fulfilling a data analyst role.

The workspace at the event was great. The space was very open with lots of other participants and teams, and the area where the mentors were was well signposted, all of who were helpful. The whole venue was well lit, comfortable and chilled, it was a place where you could really get your head down and be productive.

What made Product Forge exceed my initial expectation was how well it was organised, and how accommodating, helpful and friendly the staff and mentors were.
Most importantly, the scope of the project was highly engaging and motivated me and the other participants to work long into the night.

Overall, I’ve learnt a lot at my first Product Forge event, in particular the importance of team organization. Working in a team with people who have vastly different skillsets was a challenge when it came to coordinating an efficient work pipeline.

A night’s sleep after the event and I am still impressed with the ingenuity and creativity displayed by my team and the other teams at the event. Product Forge has convinced me that to begin addressing the more complex problems facing public health, the teams behind the solutions need to be multidisciplinary, and the individuals need to have the soft-skills to bridge the gaps between the depths of their individual technical expertise.

This won’t be my last Product Forge, and the connections I’ve made have signposted to me other smaller-scale hackathon groups (e.g. Edinburgh Hacklab) which until now I wouldn’t have been interested in, but I now seek to become more involved with.

I’d like to thank IHDP for at first bringing to my attention, and sponsoring my first Product Forge event; it has been a pleasure to participate at Product Forge and I don’t intend this to be my last.

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