Press release

Hertie School and Leuphana University Lüneburg to study collaborative hackathon #WirVsVirus endorsed by German Chancellery

Researchers to examine best practices and benefits of digital collaborative events, like generating solutions to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Berlin, 16 June 2020 – Researchers from the Hertie School and the Leuphana University Lüneburg have launched a study, endorsed by the German Federal Chancellery, to evaluate best practices and policy recommendations generated by Germany’s #WirVsVirus (#UsVsVirus) hackathon. Johanna Mair, Professor of Organization, Strategy and Leadership at the Hertie School and Fellow at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and Thomas Gegenhuber, Assistant Professor for Digital Transformation at Leuphana University Lüneburg, will evaluate how such digital collaborative events can quickly generate creative, viable solutions to problems like those related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

#WirVsVirus is the open call of a consortium of civil society organisations supported by the German government to create solutions for the social, economic and medical challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. In March, 26,500 participants worked in teams to generate almost 1,500 ideas during the 48-hour hackathon. Twenty of the hackathon’s best ideas were financially rewarded, while a further 130 projects have become part of a post-hackathon programme that supports their implementation.

“Our aim is to review the hackathon and the post-hackathon phase in real time,” says Johanna Mair. “Together, we want to gain insights into best practices and identify challenges that occur throughout the ideation and implementation process.” 

First results of Mair and Gegenhuber’s research will be presented at the #oneversary of the hackathon in March 2021. In addition, the research team will publish interim results in the form of mini-case studies on the funded ideas. 

“This kind of approach will enable us to draw lessons from the initiative more immediately and develop recommendations for policy and practice,” said Thomas Gegenhuber. “In the long term, we want to use our research to make a scientific contribution to social progress through technology-supported participatory social innovation.

Anna Hupperth of Tech4Germany, spokeswoman of the hackathon consortium, said, “The accompanying research not only allows us to draw lessons from our initiative, but also supports the momentum for debate on how civil society can be an established part of digital social innovation processes.”

An article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review on “Countering Coronavirus with Open Social Innovation” can be accessed here. 

The Hertie School in Berlin prepares exceptional students for leadership positions in government, business, and civil society. The school offers master’s, doctoral and executive education programmes distinguished by interdisciplinary and practice-oriented teaching, as well as outstanding research. Its extensive international network positions it as an ambassador of good governance, characterised by public debate and engagement. The school was founded in 2003 by the Hertie Foundation, which remains its major funder. The Hertie School is accredited by the state and the German Science Council.


Press contact