covIDEJA 2020 - The story of one ideaton and more than 100 ideas for a better today and tomorrow!

Posted June 22, 2020

UNDP Accelerator Lab, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The individuals can make the world a better place, and six winning ideas of the “ideathon” covIDEJA 2020 are a living proof of that. Ideas such as the “Vault Nanoplatform as a Vaccine for SARS-CoV2 Infections and Therapeutic for Potential Activation of Tuberculosis in COVID-19 Infected Patients”, “D- app”, ”Ultra violet tunnels for sterilization/disinfection of shopping carts “,”Mask Machine”, “Educor platform” and “Buy more so Bosnia and Herzegovina can thrive”, are not just a response to the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, but a call for a better Bosnia and Herzegovina. Congratulations to the winners, but also to everyone who participated in this "ideathon"!

How did it all begin?

Back in January this year, the COVID-19 virus was just some news from the other side of the world, but already in March it became a reality in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has started to significantly affect people's health and lives, creating problems for the economy on a global scale. Life as we knew it, our daily routines and customs were abruptly interrupted, and what was once unthinkable has now quickly become a "new normal" and a "new everyday life". In the challenges before us, we recognized the need to involve all citizens in creating innovative solutions so that everyone can help in overcoming the crisis as soon as possible. The idea CovIDEJA 2020 was born!

The United Nations Development Program in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNDP BiH) and Bit Alliance, an association of IT companies in the country, with the support of over 20 other partners, organized the covIDEJA2020 "ideathon" to involve the general public in solving a wide range of problems caused by this pandemic. Everyone with an idea could suggest solutions through two categories: Act now! or Re-imagine the future! The ideas could relate to problems in health, economy, community, education, (new) public services, new business models, environment, etc. Everyone was invited to participate, people of all ages, individually or in a team, informal groups, civil society organizations, representatives of the private sector, academia, and the media.

The very first digital ideathon in the country must have the first-of-a-kind digital portal!

It was clear from the start that we would need to develop a covIDEJA web platform from scratch in several iterations, and according to the priorities – but very quickly. The first iteration was about enabling people to have a place where they would get all information about the ideathon and post their idea to be visible to everyone visiting the page. In just 72 hours, we moved from a drawing on a piece of paper to a functional web platform. The CovIDEJA 2020 was launched on April 10.

Together with colleagues from the IT company Ministry of Programming, we created an online platform where people could come, read all about the covIDEJA 2020 initiative, get acquainted with the basic rules for participation, and propose their idea. From the moment they press the submit button, each idea was visible in the Gallery of Ideas section. After a two-week deadline for the submission of ideas, we enabled public voting to see which ideas the general public liked the most. After the public voting, the website had a presentation on the members of the jury as experts in various fields, from public administration, health, economy to culture. The jury evaluated all ideas and made the final decision on which ideas are best, taking into account the voice of the public. Finally, we presented the winning ideas on 6th May, but all other ideas remained visible in the Gallery of Ideas for further support. Our numerous partners also got their dedicated space on the web platform.

We will continue working on the updates of the web platform so that everyone can see how individual ideas are evolving and becoming a reality.

How many ideas is enough?

We could not have wished for a better response to the "ideathon" covIDEJA 2020. In two weeks, we received over 100 ideas, and in less than a month since the launch of the site, over 65,000 people have visited it. This initiative also showed that young people are the drivers of the change in the world, since the average age of all those who applied is 25, and as many as 62% of ideas submitted are related to technology and digital solutions.

covIDEJA 2020 taught us that ...

Tapping into collective intelligence is an excellent resource for defining problems and seeking solutions

We wanted to create something that would involve the community, discover the potential of the collective intelligence of citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and open space for jointly defining solutions to new challenges and problems. We considered the public voting important in getting to know what people think about others' ideas, and a jury essential for making the best possible decision about which ideas deserve awards. And finally, for all those ideas not to remain a dead letter, we have created a wide network of partners who could potentially support the further development and implementation of all feasible ideas.

Doing something fast but with quality requires great enthusiasm and a different definition of time

The Covid-19 pandemic in the country, and the world, has created the sense of urgency that something must be done right here and right now. But to do something quickly, efficiently, and with quality, you need to work together with enthusiasts who do not measure their contribution by working hours but by achieved goals. In our case, the goal was the successful implementation of the initiative - whether it is creating a web platform, designing unique visuals, setting a network of partners, writing content for the page, etc. In other words, you need to work on fast implementation around the clock. Still, with great effort and unbelievable people everything is possible, even a web platform in 72 hours and over 20 partners!

You've forgotten something? Don't worry; people will politely point out to you what is missing!

The speed with which you have to work and develop the initiative sometimes does not allow you to predict all the potential scenarios or needs. In our case, it was about what the visitors will need to have available on the covIDEJA 2020 web platform to consider it user friendly. You just need to recognize the potential for collaboration in a given situation, be agile, and if you are willing to listen, people will give you great tips on how to improve your web platform, initiative, project, or anything you are working on.

Ideas are here, what's next?

In the coming period, the partners of the "ideathon" covIDEJA 2020 will try to support the further development of ideas related to their fields of work, but will also offer to the applicants the mentorship, additional education or participation in networks that can benefit their further development and work. Several initiative partners, such as the Mozaik Foundation, GIZ and the Green Council, have already recognized the potential of some of the ideas and expressed a desire to support further development through mentoring, education, or resources. In this way, we are jointly working on sustainable cooperation with innovators and partners, and we are moving from words to deeds - all for a better Bosnia and Herzegovina.

You can also be part of this story!

Whether you are coming from the public, private or civil sector; whether you see that some of the ideas can help your local community or company or you just believe that everyone deserves better health, education or economic development; whether you want to act now or you are re-imagining a better future,   you can support the development of all 109 ideas of covIDEJA 2020 "ideathon". Take a look at all the ideas in the Gallery of Ideas, and if you want to find out more or support any of the ideas, contact us via the contact form.

Together, we can make more than 100 covIDEJA 2020 ideas a reality!