Kouvola Meets Innovation Through “Think Track Hackathon”


Vol 26 Issue 15. 02 February 2024

During the last week of January, from the 30th to the 1st  of February, a Hackathon ignited innovation in the form of student brilliance. A select few numbers of students were selected to partake in this incredible event to showcase their innovative minds and contribute to the possible betterment of Kouvola. Participants rained in from, XAMK Kouvola, with its slight urban charm, XAMK Mikkeli, wrapped in the tranquillity of the Finnish lake district, and LUT University, standing tall as an academic powerhouse—all under the same roof, ready to redefine the future. Considering it was a friendly competition, the victorious team would be rewarded a dazzling 1,000 Euros worth of S-Group company gift cards.

It was an incredible atmosphere of anticipation and excitement as the students from diverse backgrounds were placed into working teams of 4 to 5. Day 1 was a relaxed day of guest lectures, a short team-building value framework game, and getting to know one another. To cap off the day of electrifying innovation, participants were treated to an adrenaline-fueled group excursion to Tykkimäen Sauna. Picture this: a fearless plunge into the frozen lake followed by a rejuvenating sit-down in the luxuriously warm sauna. The night was an epic blend of exhilaration and relaxation, a fitting end to a day well spent in the team-building spirit.

The real work then began the next morning, the hackathon participants were introduced to their task, which included brainstorming an idea that would persuade students to stay and build a life in Kouvola after graduation. The focus topic being “To make Kouvola great again!” The main questions presented to the teams were “What kind of living environment attracts students now and, in the future, and how can these needs be met in Kouvola? Utilize emerging technologies and trends in your concept. What kind of services (basic + leisure time) and events are needed to make students want to live in Kouvola?”

Since the students were from different academic backgrounds, the approaches were quite diverse and inspiring. For example, the business students, who focused more on business-centric ideas such as expanding public transportation, had different approaches to IT and BlockChain students who had their focus on software development or database improvement.

After a whirlwind of exhilarating brainstorms, and a torrent of information-packed sessions that left everyone on the edge of their seats, the grand finale unfolded. The stage was set, the spotlight shone, and anticipation was solid. Each team took center stage for an adrenaline-fueled 15-minute presentation to the jury with their innovative concept. The jury consisted of: Jyri Vilko, Associate Professor at LUT University, Sanna Kauppi, Marketing- and Communication manager of Kouvola Innovation, Kaisa Niilo-Rämä, Planning Architect of Kouvola City, Johanna Harju, Communication Manager of Stora Enso, Sabine Akhmetova, Community Manager at Patteri Entrepreneurial Society Ry.

It was not only a conclusion to the event, but a collective exhale after a two-day impression of brilliant innovation. After Engineering their concept, one group triumphed, earning each member a 250-Euro gift card to S-Group companies. However, every student walked away with an advantage: newfound skills and a more diverse way of thinking.