The trophy.

Challenges set by INVEST researchers were tackled at the EC2U Makeathon,

How can we reduce loneliness? And how can we offer equal opportunities to choose secondary education? Solutions to these two questions raised by INVEST researchers were sought in the 24-hour Makeathon organised by the EC2U alliance and its RI4C2 project.

On the table, there are dozens of post-it notes. One group of stickers addresses the problems, another the solution ideas, and a third the benefits brought by the solution and possible problem areas. The last group points out the questions raised by the challenge.

“This is what we will be doing in our professional lives. We solve problems together,” says Annimari Seppälä enthusiastically. For a student of educational sciences, the theme was fitting: equal opportunities in secondary education is a theme that contributes to the development of one’s own expertise and provides the opportunity to network internationally.

Marko Nikmo, Saara Makkonen, Mariel Turkia, and Annimari Seppälä said the Makeathon provides challenges and opportunities for development.
Marko Nikmo, Saara Makkonen, Mariel Turkia, and Annimari Seppälä said the Makeathon provides challenges and opportunities for development.


In the same team Seppälä, Marko Nikmo, Saara Makkonen, and Mariel Turkia tried to find a solution to the challenges of entering secondary education. Biotechnology students Saara and Maria have previously participated in Aalto University’s Hackathon, and when they heard about the Makeathon held at the University of Turku, they were immediately ready to join.

“This is a nice way to activate one’s thinking,” Mariel Turkia remarked.

Wicked problems were tackled simultaneously at seven European universities.

At the 24-hour Makeathon organized by the EC2U alliance’s project Research & Innovation For Cities & Citizens (RI4C2), answers to wicked problems were sought. Participants could choose either to join a joint team of seven universities or participate in challenges selected locally at each university.

Two of the four challenges from the University of Turku were derived from the Research Flagship INVEST. One of the challenges, prepared by Senior Researcher Laura Heiskala and University Researcher Jessica Nisén, addressed loneliness, while the other focused on secondary education.

“We challenge participants to come up with feasible practical solutions to ensure equal opportunities for young people finishing basic education in different areas to participate in the secondary education of their choice, which provides sufficient conditions to succeed in life in the future and provides good and fair preparedness for higher education,” the researchers wrote as the challenge for Nikmo, Makkonen, Turkia, and Seppälä.

Four people discussiong
Aashu Bhattarai (left), Diana Fajardo, and Xiaoshan Huang, tried to find a way to reduce loneliness. Mentor Aschwin van der Woude (2. left) helped by raising more questions.


A few meters away, Aashu Bhattarai, Diana Fajardo, and Xiaoshan Huang were tackling another INVEST challenge, while their teammate Emily Tirkkonen was on a break. Mentor Aschwin van der Woude from the neighboring team sat down to inquire about the progress of the challenge. The task was to figure out what societal measures could be taken to reduce loneliness.

The trio unanimously agreed that in their home countries – Nepal, Colombia, and China – loneliness is not as significant an issue as it is in Finland.

“In our culture, people are much nosier; they ask each other everything,” Fajardo explained.

According to her, the Makeathon is a great opportunity to find practical solutions to real problems. The group would reduce loneliness by increasing awareness of different participation opportunities.

The winner from Turku will head to Poitiers to present the challenge solution

The event culminated in a pitch for each group, with the representative of the winning team heading to the RI4C2’s final event at the University of Poitiers in France to present their solution. From Turku, a solution aiming to increase urban biodiversity will embark on the journey.

Twenty students from the University of Turku participated in the challenges. They were supported by mentors from the City of Turku, EC2U, and Boost Turku, as well as Laura Niemi, a development expert coordinating RI4C2 activities at the University of Turku, and coordinator Maija Lespinasse.

Ihmiset katsomassa televisiota.
Throughout the event, video connections were made several times to other Makeathon universities.


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