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Hackathons can be gruelling events, bringing teams together over a weekend to solve challenging business, social and cultural problems. And this weekend’s PharmHack, the world’s first pharmacy hackathon, is no different.

Organised by HealthClick in collaboration with Disruptor’s Handbook, PharmHack was designed to bring innovation to the world of Pharmacy using the innovation techniques from the world of startups. With over 60 participants drawn from the pharmacy world, health technology and IT, designers, developers, students and healthcare workers, many of whom were first timers, the results were uncertain.

Supported by teams of mentors, subject matter experts and massive stores of health data courtesy of PBS and FRED IT, challenges were formed, idea pitches were made and teams were formed. Mentors scrambled to coach teams on lean canvas and prototyping techniques, experienced developers beamed in via Skype to answer hairy development questions and the vital pitch coaching stretched and challenged all.

The participants got a great “reality check” in the lunchtime workshop with Liz from food tech startup YouChews, where she emphasized the need for customer validation and real world engagement. Taking participants out of their comfort zones, she asked for off-the-cuff pitches, gave instant feedback and challenged the teams to not rely on staid, published research, connecting with real customers and buyers instead.

After an intense afternoon mentoring the teams on validation techniques, pitch messaging and social media research, we ran the teams through 60 second pitches. We had come so far, but knew there was more ahead.

In under 8 hours we will have PharmHack winners. But the team members will never be the same again.