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Savonia article: Global challenges and human security as a framework for innovative collaboration and co-creation


A hackathon is an event where teams and individuals often create different solutions to given challenges or assignments in a short time. Challenges in the hackathon can be introduced in advance, or they can be more specific and limited themes, focusing on an ongoing problem that involves connecting different competencies and acquiring necessary resources. If necessary, the hackathon seeks a wide range of expertise from different fields of education and environments, starting with, for example, connecting actors from different universities or companies with unique strengths.

The necessary partners should be involved in the challenges, such as companies, principals, researchers, and mentors, who can act as owners and customers of the challenges and as sources of the necessary resources (expertise, guidance, feedback for viability, and finances).

Co-Creation processes, like hackathons, are one example of how they can connect institutions, like university applied sciences and universities, with users and companies. In this sense, the Co-creation approach is a genuinely customer-centric way to solve relevant problems. The hackathon themes can provide a broader context for universal global challenges such as the evolution of climate change and the ever-changing security environment. Such themes are wide-ranging in nature as well as topical. They also mostly touch on international needs, not to mention local habitats and livelihoods.

Current examples of the rapid change in the operating environment and the safety of individuals are the Covid pandemic and the subsequent war in Ukraine. They have raised personal demands for safety and the meaning of a safe environment. The pandemic, for example, highlighted the importance of health security, and the war, in turn, highlighted the need for security, self-sufficiency, preparedness for cyber-attacks, and a response to the energy, raw material, and food crises caused by the war. Viewed in a broader context, in the era of industrialization, humanity has prospered rapidly through a leap in productivity that has positively affected the sense of security in many societies.

However, our perception of human security is constantly evolving, and it has been observed that biodiversity is declining faster than ever before in history. The consequences can be severe and far-reaching, not only for human security and personal livelihood but also for the economy. The issue has been described, for example, in the 2021 Dasgupta Report (The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review). It is important to note that human security puts individuals and nations in a more prominent position as a concept launched at the UN in 1994. This concept means that a broader notion of security has been introduced alongside the more classical notion of state security. Environmental security, financial security, personal and physical security, community security, health, and universal human rights have become areas of understanding the concept of security.

Human security and large-scale societal upheavals can drive development, research, and innovation. It is an appropriate time to discuss cultural, social, and technological experiments that will accelerate the search for solutions in an era of sustainability change. Sustainability change refers to the adaptation and development of our entire ways of life, such as local livelihoods, human security, housing, energy infrastructure, transport, and the food chain, concerning environmental changes. The construction of solutions can be approached with a proactive approach, considering rapidly evolving technologies, factors affecting safety and needs, and, for example, regional industries.

In order to solve horizontal problems, it is necessary to strengthen regional, national and international knowledge sharing and cooperation and develop understanding in connection with the development of human security. At its best, the hackathon’s operating method enables the delineation of challenges that emerge in the real world. Solving the challenges with relevant partners creates a connection with research, and innovation activities, connecting sufficiently ambitious business goals and the ability to cultivate change built through multidisciplinary expertise. With a sufficiently broad context and the connection of know-how, perspectives or solutions to the future’s significant security and sustainability challenges can be developed.

Through a broader context, the solution to the challenges shifts from, for example, examining the details of security and climate crises to cross-cutting solutions to the transition to sustainability. An example of development work in this context is using new technologies behind hackathon assignments. For example, how can 5G technologies be utilized in crisis management, adaptation, and preparedness? Such themes are essential both locally and globally. Significant sectors include, for example, infrastructure, water and electricity infrastructure, cyber security, health, defense, and changes in several local industries.

The context of development activities can also be based on the Agenda 2030 program for sustainable development, the UN’s global agenda for sustainable development. Several public organizations and companies link their activities and responsibility goals in this context. Cooperation between research institutions, universities, polytechnics, and companies will also lay the foundations for strategic action, which will also be promoted, for example, by the reforms of corporate responsibility regulations being prepared in the EU. Thus, human security is linked to a broader agenda and the building of climate security. In practice, for example, it is necessary to be prepared for various security-related events, such as changes in the security of supply, demographic changes, pandemics, hybrid wars, and natural changes, such as droughts. These can change both human safety and the business environment and operating conditions.

The current sudden global events have revealed different interdependencies in societies. Perceiving interdependencies and ensuring human security are qualities we may need more in the future. For this reason, considering human security and promoting sustainable development requires new ways of working, products, and services with a higher degree of processing, quality, or features. These development areas and solving relevant problems are approachable, for example, in Co-creation sessions, with collaboration between members of different clusters and ecosystems (like in superecosystem.fi), and at events like hackathons.

The nature of the Co-Creation process or an event, like hackathons, is to create a way of working and an atmosphere for the participants that are simultaneously experiential, educational, and productive. Motivation in events can be related to, for example, employment, the opportunity to create and network, and to move agilely to practical follow-up measures. Therefore, providing participants with a structure that promotes understanding of the broader context and the introduction and commercialization of new solutions is essential.

There is a growing need for supported opportunities to build one’s path in the university field. Creating multidisciplinary learning pathways challenges the notion that there is only one right way to address individual or systemic challenges. Hackathon’s way of working involves creating connections and solutions through the participant’s skills, preferences, and drivers.


Matti Laitinen, Innovation advisor, Business Center North-Savo
Phone +358 44 785 6333, matti.laitinen@savonia.fi

Jyri Wuorisalo, Project Manager, Savonia University of Applied Sciences
Phone +358 44 785 6914, jyri.wuorisalo@savonia.fi


Final Report – The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review

Final Report of the Independent Review on the Economics of Biodiversity led by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, 2021 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/final-report-the-economics-of-biodiversity-the-dasgupta-review

Human Development Report, 1994


Corporate social responsibility & Responsible business conduct, 2022

Grönroos, C., & Voima, P. (2013). Critical service logic: making sense of value creation and co-creation. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 41(2), 133-150.

Business Center North Savo – https://www.bcpohjois-savo.fi/en/home/

Super Ecosystem – https://superecosystem.fi/

XAMK Satelite Hack