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One of the reasons for joining Biztech was to help foster greater collaboration across the tech community within Milton Keynes.

It was therefore a very great pleasure to witness first hand the sort of collaboration that makes Milton Keynes stand out as a hub within which tech businesses can thrive. 

I had the opportunity to take part in a hackathon organised by the founders of Protospace – a collaboration between teams from within the Milton Keynes creative and technical communities –  ‘Made in MK’, ‘MK Geek Night’ and ‘Pooleyville’ – supported also by Milton Keynes Council

The task was to build an app for the citizens of Milton Keynes providing information about sustainable living – e.g what can be recycled, where to recycle, how to share food, where to find stores that will refill containers instead of supplying new ones made of single-use plastic, how to travel more sustainably … and so much more. 

We had a weekend to do it. 

Thanks to the wonders of the collaboration tool Slack I joined a myriad of designers, developers, and sustainability experts from across the community all given the loosest possible brief – “we want you to build a sustainability app – off you go”.

I suspect that a professional project manager would be aghast.  Where is the project plan, the milestones, the roles and lines of reporting?

It was liberating to simply let people organise themselves.  The tech developers sought each other out, as did the designers, and the content specialists.  As a data specialist in a group of one, I flitted between everyone making sure that the content was in the right place and format for the developers.  I also helped to collect some of the content – learning along the way about the e-scooter pilot scheme, buses on demand, community fridges and larders lift sharing schemes, the location of every single recycle point across the region, and plenty more.

By Monday a prototype was in place.  There is some way to go but it will be coming to Milton Keynes citizens soon.

This was a great example of collaboration across several Milton Keynes communities.  The technical and creative communities were there in force as were those working hard to improve sustainability across the City. 

But the choice of subject for the app was no accident.  People across Milton Keynes are keen to do what they can to live in as ‘green’ a manner as possible. 

This is an app for them.  So, when it is finally put into production and there are processes in place to keep the content up-to-date, we will have witnessed a weekend of standout collaboration – all for the benefit of the whole City community.

Paul Clarke




Member of the Biztech Management Board