Project: Health Hackathon

Our first ever external hackathon asks the question, "how can we help people make healthier choices?"

Background and Introduction

This September, we held our first ever external hackathon in the Rainmaking Loft, London.
Over 100 entrepreneurs from start-ups and external companies competed to come up with the best new consumer health-related app or service, in just 48 hours.

But no Lab is an island! Our friends at Intel, Motorola, Verizon, P&G, Johnson + Johnson, and The Food Doctor mentored the teams throughout the weekend, and the Rainmaking Loft crew helped with the facilitation of the event too.
We had real customers in to give brutally honest opinions on the teams’ ideas; sushi and lots of healthy goodies from The Food Doctor (as well as the obligatory pizza!), and lots of breakout sessions and checkpoints along the way, to make sure all teams were on track for the final pitches.

Around 130 entrepreneurs from start-ups and external companies will compete to come up with the best new consumer health-related app or service, and they’ll be given 48 hours to do so.

Our friends at the Rainmaking Loft, a space we own whose workspace we rent out to start-ups at a subsidised rate, are helping to facilitate on the day, and are letting us take over the venue for the competition.

This hackathon has generated a lot of interest, and many of our partners and suppliers are supporting in one way or another – be it providing mentors, judges, or donating prizes or delicious goodies for the hackers.

Improving health is one of the world’s biggest – and growing – challenges. Tesco, as one of the world’s largest food retailers, is super keen to create strategies that can improve health for the long term, and to play a major role in addressing this problem.

Goals and Objectives

Improving health is one of the world’s biggest – and growing – challenges. Most of us will say we know what it takes to be healthy, but there remains a yawning chasm between what we know to be important, and what we actually do. I for one have often fallen victim to the siren call of ‘just one more Jaffa Cake’.*

As a major retailer, we at Tesco have a responsibility to help people make healthier choices… so much so, that we have publicly pledged to help tackle the global obesity crisis by encouraging our colleagues and customers to live healthily.

And it seems there’s the potential for us to make a massive difference: 54% of UK consumers say they want supermarkets to be doing more to improve the health of the nation, ahead of Government (51%), Doctors (47%) and local Councils (35%).

So that’s why we’ve decided that the focus of this hackathon will be on helping customers to easily make healthier food choices in store and online, and to feel inspired to change for the better.

Another key goal for us is to bring together lots of talented people, and give them an opportunity to meet new people, network, create something fantastic, and have fun!

So who won?

The overall winners were the Barcode Monsters. They came up with a tamagotchi-inspired app to encourage healthy eating in children. When the child is in a supermarket with his mother, he can scan products’ barcodes, and depending on the nutritional content of the product, the monster in the app gets happier or sadder, fatter or thinner…and maybe even more hyper! A simple yet brilliant idea, which lets children learn about nutrition and its impact on their health, rather than piling sweeties into the trolley.

* Disclaimer: other brands of cake (or is it a biscuit?) are available.

If you'd like to know more information you can email us at, or let us know your thoughts with a tweet @TescoLabs