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Where does the inspiration for a day of collaboration that pushes intellectual thought, partnership and physical boundaries, begin?

For the Partnership Initiative between Ashfield Healthcare Communications and our Belgian biotech client, it all started with a casual conversation over coffee when Stephanie Tortell, SVP Group Medical Director, Ashfield Healthcare Communications, and Andrew Binns, SVP Strategy & Planning, Ashfield Digital & Creative, met with Jérémie Affergan, Senior Purchasing Manager, on a chilly, February day in Brussels. From there the spark was ignited, and the unlimited potential of an experimental and experiential partnership was on, between Ashfield Healthcare Communications and Procurement that would take us beyond previous initiatives and expectations!

Now, that’s not to say the entire process was all cake, coffee and chat (although there was definitely plenty of coffee involved… and just maybe the odd slice of cake!). Like any initiative that seeks to go outside of the norm, the road to the hackathon was a long one.

Setting the challenge
We were off! Next phase –the truly formidable phase – where our client had the significant task to identify no more than six unique challenges that the hackathon would attempt to address. Who would have thought that narrowing all of the ideas down to five challenges, which stood a chance of resulting in a tangible, deliverable solution in less than 48 hours, would prove to be so challenging!

So after much consideration and deliberation, the final challenges were agreed just a few days before the event! In the meantime, our core team of Candace Shaw, Communications Director, Ashfield Digital & Creative, and Stephanie spent considerable time planning the optimal forum, environment, process and methodology that would ensure success at the event itself.

Now all that was needed were (rather a lot of) participants – and the right ones! Together with our client we gave careful consideration to team chemistry and expertise. Ashfield brought experts from across disciplines, backgrounds and industry experience including employees who don’t usually interact directly with clients, but are an essential part of our team. Our client provided the ‘challenge owners’ along with other colleagues and purchasing experts who had a vested interest in the challenges, all of whom travelled far and wide from across Europe and the USA to come together as one team with Ashfield. To ensure the right knowledge was available to the hackathon teams, we enhanced the Ashfield team with experts who could contribute in person and remotely, advising on the diverse range of challenges and topics and ready to tackle whatever came at them. Importantly, we identified tough judges from Ashfield, our client and The European Patients’ Academy (EUPATI) who were invited to observe the process from the start of the event.

And we are off!
So, following countless trips to gather the supplies for the day, everything from Play Doh to Haribo and of course an abundance of healthy fruit, to ensure energy levels were maintained and brainstorming techniques could be applied, the stage was set… we were ready to go!

Be sure to come back in a few weeks where the ins and outs of this experimental and experiential partnership initiative will be revealed.

About the authors
Candace Shaw, Communications Director, Ashfield Digital & Creative
Candace is Communications Director within Ashfield Digital & Creative, part of Ashfield Healthcare Communications. She manages and coordinates the creation of all communications for Ashfield Digital & Creative, supporting strategic initiatives while ensuring the high standards and ethos of Ashfield Digital & Creative are adhered to. With more than 12 years’ experience in healthcare communications, and an interest in industry trends, Candace also leads a number of innovation initiatives including the Ashfield Healthcare Communications’ Hackathon – Kollider.

Stephanie Tortell, SVP Group Medical Director, Ashfield Healthcare Communications
Stephanie brings more than 25 years of industry and agency experience to her role at Ashfield, where her current focus is on supporting Ashfield’s Patient Centre of Excellence, both enhancing our external leadership and internal collaboration.