In June 2019, ORM hosted the first PITCH – ‘People Innovating to Change Housing’ – hackathon. Aimed at housing associations that were looking for fast, collaborative ways to innovate on digital initiatives, the inaugural event took place at Microsoft’s UK offices in Reading on 26 June.


The hackathon came about after discussions with ORM client, Moat, and seeing a gap in the sector for innovation. Mark Rogers, Director of Business Transformation at Moat, said: “We’d seen similar events that ORM had been part of and thought this was something that could really help our sector. After working collaboratively with ORM on our own digital transformation project, we knew how agile they could work and believed they were the right partner to run a hackathon for housing associations.”


PITCH saw 30 people from six different housing associations come together for the day to work on pre-selected challenges that had been set by industry experts. Participants came from Saxon Weald, The Guinness Partnership, Worthing Homes, Paradigm Housing, Home Group and Moat.


Peter Paterson, Director of Client Engagement at ORM, who led the event, commented: “Hackathons are perfect for the housing sector, as it allows the industry to come together and work on common issues in a short amount of time. By taking a range of skilled people – from subject matter experts, to developers, designers and strategists – out of their every day role, the teams were able to produce rapid prototypes that solved actual sector problems in just 8 hours, that just wouldn’t happen in their normal environment.”


The event really did inspire innovation amongst the housing associations in attendance, many of whom want to take the agile ways of working they learnt from PITCH back to their own company. On the day, after just eight hours of hacking, the four teams presented their business case and prototypes to the panel of judges – made up of senior representatives from Saxon Weald, The Guinness Partnership, Moat and ORM. 


Lizzie Lawson, Senior Strategist at ORM, was on the winning team, that created a prototype of an app or widget that will allow residents to report on different grounds maintenance issues. Housing associations receive numerous calls a week from residents on issues regarding their estates, often with the same problem being reported multiple times.


Lawson said of PITCH: “I was honestly a bit apprehensive turning up for the event, as I didn’t think one day was going to be long enough to create anything tangible. Yet, the enthusiasm and determination of my teammates was great to  see, and it just goes to show how limited time and the pressure of a hackathon environment gives a focus for creativity and innovation.”