Hackathon London

Hackathon in London to support people with learning differences: the projects

Innovative manufacturing, Education and Civic engagement, Healthcare
OpenDot, King's Health Partners, Health Innovation Network - South London - for EU Project FEAST

Hack for Food Hack for Good - London is the second of a serie of hackathon in Europe designed and organized by OpenDot for FEAST - Food systems that support transitions to healthy and sustainable diets, the European project that aims to promote and support the transition towards healthier and sustainable eating habits and against food poverty.

As part of the Feast project, OpenDot acts as a facilitator of innovation and experimentation processes and has identified in the hackathon format the most effective way to identify a solution, starting from one or more "challenges".

The Hackathon synthesizes in fact a creative process that in OpenDot is the order of the day: starting from the real needs of people to find, in a collaborative and co-creative way, social innovation solutions that have technology as the enabling element of change.

In addition to the innovative and technological component, the hackathon allows to involve young people from different disciplines (developers, designers, communication experts  and more) in a challenge that takes place in a limited period of time, thus emphasizing a collaborative mode that must express maximum effectiveness to lead to a satisfactory solution.

For the participants, the hackathon represents both an educational opportunity - because it allows them to learn new methods of collaboration and communication through the effective and concise presentation of their project - both relational and professional because it allows you to meet other students, young professionals and trigger new collaborations.

The winning team wins a mentorship and acceleration program with OpenDot for prototyping the idea.

For the London edition of Hack for Food, Hack for Good, OpenDot collaborated with King's Health PartnersHIN - Health Innovation Network South London and NHS South East London Integrated Care System, with the aim of supporting people with learning differences and their families/carers to live healthier lifestyles and adopt healthier diets, by bringing together a wide range of partners to create a positive step-change to improve health and reduce health inequalities.

Context, ‘need finding’ and Challenge

It’s been recognised for many years that people with learning differences (LD) are at increased risk of being overweight or obese compared to the general population. This is for a variety of reasons (e.g. poorly balanced diets and very low levels of physical activity, lower socio-economic status, genetics, medication, barriers to accessing and engaging with healthcare, limited nutritional knowledge, reliance upon carers/support workers, differences in perception of weight/shape, barriers to alternative options for enjoyment and autonomy). This risk, in turn, increases the likelihood of a range of health problems (e.g. diabetes, heart failure and strokes) and adverse psychological health and wellbeing.

An analysis of GP data across England showed that whilst there was lower prevalence of ‘overweight’ in the LD population compared to the general population (27% compared to 31.8% respectively) there was a higher proportion of Class IIIobesity in the LD population (37% compared to 30.1% respectively)

(source: Obesity and weight management for people with learning disabilities: guidance)

After the conduction of a session of need finding with HIN - Health Innovation Network South London and NHS South East London Integrated Care System, OpenDot highlights the necessity of contribute to supporting communities in south east London to improve their health. 

Work undertaken across South East London has identified that people with LD are not receiving effective and tailored support to manage their weight. For example, most local authority commissioned tier 2 services specify that reasonable adjustments must be made to be able to include and achieve good outcomes for people with learning disabilities. However, it is not always possible for service providers to effectively do so, given that providers are usually not experts in supporting and working with adults with learning disabilities, and the relatively tight budgets that they must deliver their services within.

From this study was defined the challenge for the London edition:

How can we support adults with learning differences living with excess weight, to have healthy food choices?
The event - London, 22-24.02.2024

22 participants, divided into four teams, took part in "Hack For Food, Hack for Good" at Health Foundry: the first two days of the event the teams began to work together, to know better the context of intervention, to identify the problem to be solved, interview users with learning difference, and to confront with mentors to sharpen ideas. On the third day of the event each team held a public pitch in front of an international audience and the jury to present their idea. On March 1, the winner was announced publicly.

Winning teams

The London edition was particularly rich in ideas, and the concepts presented were convincing and innovative. For this reason, the jury decided to award the victory equal merit to two teams.

Cooking Connections

Method-kit to co-design structured inclusive and engaging food activities, fostering hands-on and impactful learning experiences for people with learning difficulties.


Emma Pareschi - Digital Fabrication Expert

Team members

Shiping Emily Zhao - Designer

Avi Choukhany -  Service Designer

Caroline Welch - Public Health Nutritionist and Project Lead at Good Food Oxford 

Jack Gooding - Public Health Strategist, London Borough of Bexley

Gillian Fiumicelli - Head of Disease Prevention, London Borough of Bromley

Kathryn Guest - Project Lead Dietitian London


Physical tool kit with inclusive kitchen basics (like whisks, clear chopping board etc.), instructions, and recipe baking sheets with visual cues for exact portions of the ingredients.


Andrea Ascani - Product Designer and Digital Fabrication Expert

Team members

Manaal Habib - Social Innovation Designer 

ZhixiWang - Designer 

Silvia Susanna Bottini - Product Designer

Pietro Cannata - Product Designer 

Victoria Smith - Inclusion Manager at Royal Borough of Greenwich

Jackie Downing - Deputy Head of Nursing at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust

The other ideas generated by Hack for Food, Hack for Good - London

Taste Buddy 

AI-based meal planning app tailored for people with learning differences

Team: Martin Hosner, Jennie Crossan, Sarah Appleton, Vinamra Sharma

Co-designed training Package 

Training package that shifts knowledge, attitudes and practice, and fosters a community of practice for service providers.

Team: Katherine Dunlop, Claire Bennett, Sahal Ghafur, Ahamed Yaseen, Bronwyn Ward



Laura Dellamotta - Co-Founder, supervision, general coordination

Giovanna Gardi - Co-Founder, administration and reporting

Alessandro Masserdotti - Co-Founder, general supervision 

Fabrizio Pignoloni - Co-Founder, art direction

Cristina Biella - Project management, proposal writer, operative coordination

Martina Giulianelli - Communication Designer
Marta Savoldelli - Proposal writer and reporting

Giulia Marcolli - Communication and social media

Mentors - OpenDot

Line Ulrika Christiansen - Director

Mirko Balducci - Hackathon Designer Lead

Martina GIulianelli - Communication Designer

Cristina Biella - Project manager, Content Designer

Mentors - FEAST

Anant Jani - University of Heidelberg and FEAST Project Coordinator  

Peter Andersen - University of Heidelberg

Mentors - Local partners

Steve Grimsey - Bexley Mencap

Elizabeth Deeves - Adult Social Care LD Service - LBB

Jenny Ioseliani - Associate Director ALD - RBG

Faye Edwards - Senior Programme Manager - Diabetes - HIN

Gay Palmer - Primary Care Network Social Prescribing Lead, South Southwark PCN

Oliver Canfell - Lecturer in Nutritional Sciences - KCL

Jordan Oliver - Learning Disabilities and Autism Lead

Annie Norton - Ass. Director, Partnerships & Programmes, Greenwich

Oliver Canfell - Lecturer in Nutritional Sciences - KCL

Jordan Oliver - Learning Disabilities and Autism Lead

Annie Norton - Ass. Director, Partnerships & Programmes, Greenwich

The Jury

Anant Jani - FEAST Project Coordinator

Aditi Bunker - Postdoctoral Fellow Institute of Public Health

Hayley Ormandy - Programme Director KHP

Jodi Mathers - Head of SEND Social Care Services

Neel Basudev - GP and clinical lead for diabetes

Laura Dellamotta - OpenDot General Manager

Alessandro Masserdotti - OpenDot CTO e Head of RD

Case study