Hackathon London

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

Manifattura innovativa, Educazione e partecipazione civica, Salute e cura
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 III obesity 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 Bexleyù
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
Zihixi Wang - 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

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