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  • Andy Molineux

Winning ideas: What happened at our annual ‘Krakathon’?

Tech innovation is something we’re hugely passionate about here at KrakenFlex. We live and breathe it - it’s simply in our DNA!

One of the many ways we encourage innovative thinking is through hackathons, and a highlight of the year is our annual ‘Krak-athon’, which sees team members getting creative in tackling some real-world problems.

We firmly believe that the most innovative and novel ideas come from the people who are closest to a problem and our hacks give team members space to flex their creative, tech-driven muscles! It’s also a great environment for cross-team pollination to occur, as it allows groups of awesome, likeminded people to come together, share ideas and have fun doing so.

Here is a quick outline of how this year’s hack went down, along with the three winning ideas coming out of it.

The year Krak-athon went global!

This year, for the first time, the hack was opened up to the wider Kraken Technology group, meaning team members from across the world came together to let their ideas flow. We had representation from the UK, Spain, Australia, and America, which allowed some of the teams to run a full 24h hack across the globe. Instead of setting a particular theme, we decided to do things a little differently and waited to see what kind of ideas people would come up with.

The process went something like this….

· Ideation – Individual team members began by creating and submitting a slide deck that outlined the elevator pitch for their idea, along with the why, the what and the how. These were then shared, and it was up to the individual to really sell their idea and form a team.

· The hack - Teams then had 24 hours to get to work and build out the idea and the technology.

· Demos and judging - Observing the rules of popular TV show Scrapheap Challenge, we allowed teams one final hour to tweak and fix anything that was broken, before they gave a 5-minute demo of their creation to the judges.

The judges

It was an incredibly difficult job picking our top three from all the ideas put forward. We assembled a panel of six judges with a diverse range of backgrounds throughout the Octopus Energy Group.

Introducing the winning three hacks:

1st Place: My Octopus Hero

Team members: Shem Weekes, Andy Harper, Daniel Gregory, Diane Wright, Nick Foote, Paddy Scheer, Nathan Messer, Steve Wattam

Concept – Using smart meters as an early warning system for elderly or vulnerable people living alone.

The team taking the top spot had the idea of using forecasting algorithms to analyze energy usage data from consenting residents’ smart meters, creating a view of their daily routines and then being able to spot unusual changes in behaviour that might indicate problems.

For example, deviations in expected usage, potentially by appliance (such as not keeping the home warm) which could be the result of a fall or illness.

When an unusual usage pattern occurred, a text alert would be automatically sent to a loved one or carer, enabling them to investigate and a decision to be made on the appropriate course of action.

Runner up 1: The Octopus Kettle

Team members: Matt Capon, Emily Martin, Federico Marani, David Spray, Lorenz Gruber, Angela Taylor

Concept – A kettle which encourages domestic energy users to sacrifice a cuppa when grid intensity is high

‘Given the chance humans will fundamentally do good’ - was the message siting at the heart of the idea proposed by this team, who were deserving runners up.

Their concept was an Octopus kettle which could be connected to the KrakenFlex platform and help manage energy use through influencing consumer behaviour.

The kettle would stop the user from being able to boil the kettle for an hour each day, when carbon intensity on the grid was at its highest, helping shift demand. An indicator on the kettle would show the user why their kettle wasn’t working, while a front-end presence detailed how many cups of tea they have sacrificed for the greater good.

Runner up 2: Energy Usage Gamification

Team members: Laurent Putz, Javi Manzano, Trina Stevens, Vincent Uhlke, Meagan Burke, Andreas Koliopoulos, Ben Lomax

Concept – Introducing gamification to encourage individuals and their community to reduce their carbon footprint

Our second runners up proposed using gamification to encourage Octopus Energy customers to fully engage with their energy usage, improve their usage patterns and consume energy at more cost-effective periods.

Friends and family would be able to compete to cut their carbon footprint as part of a carbon leader board, which would be included within the Octopus app and on monthly bills. An added benefit for users being a potential reduction in bills, due to a change in habits.

The concept would be further enhanced by participation in user groups and community forums, which would offer a place for users to connect, chat and share tips.

In summary

This year’s Krakathon was a fantastic success and I’d like to say a huge thank you to every single one of our team members who gave it their all, finding new and innovative ways to tackle real-world problems. We are now focused on how best we might take forward the winning ideas – so watch this space!

KrakenFlex is a mission-driven business. We’re here to create a new energy system for a better world. To find out more about our team, our platform and how we are supporting the transition to a low carbon energy network, contact us by clicking here.

We would also like to add a special thank you to Lucy Lu and the Centre For Net Zero team who provided help guidance and judging throughout the process.

The Centre for Net Zero are an impact-driven research lab, founded by Octopus Energy. They are committed to building a future energy landscape that works harder for the planet. Find out more here

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