Developing creative technology solutions is one of the core goals at Vulcan and was the area of focus when Chairman Paul G. Allen challenged the organization to look for ways to raise awareness of ocean health issues.

Vulcan set out to create the Ultimate Ocean App by hosting a Startup Weekend in March. The event brought together 67 people from inside Vulcan, as well as outside experts, who initially pitched 33 ideas. Eight ideas were selected out of the initial 33 and eight dynamic teams spent 54 hours innovating, developing, and collaborating to create their version of the Ultimate Ocean App.

The event followed the Startup Weekend format with individuals pitching ideas, building teams and then creating "minimally viable products" that were presented to a panel of judges.

"All the right ingredients were there for the dynamics of the Startup Weekend process to work," said Senior Program Manager Ted Schmidt, who brought the idea of a Startup Weekend to Vulcan. "We had a clear goal aimed at a focused topic: Using technology, specifically an app, to enable people to act to improve ocean health."

"I also saw the opportunity to use Startup Weekend as a platform to bring together people with various backgrounds and skills in a way that could produce surprising outcomes," he said.

Here are highlights from the weekend:

"The event was a wonderful embodiment of the creativity, passion, and focused effort Vulcan seeks to bring to everything it does," said Schmidt. "We have already presented several of the products to Vulcan's leadership and are beginning work to take a couple of the ideas from prototype to real product."

The success of the event will likely lead to follow-up efforts where Vulcan gathers experts from inside the organization and outside to tackle important problems with creative, viable technology ideas.

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