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Phoenix innovators want to increase manufactured shade

By Christina Estes
Published: Wednesday, December 6, 2023 - 5:39am

City of Phoenix
A team working at the inaugural Innovate PHX Challenge in April 2023.

More than 30 people will spend Thursday working on ways to create more shade, as part of the Innovate PHX Challenge at Venture Café downtown.

The theme for this year’s hackathon is, “Our Future's So Bright We've Got to Build Shade". Participants will break into five teams to come up with solutions to expand non-living shade.

“So, it could be manufactured shade structures, it could be different components for personal shade, it could  have arts components around it,” said Michael Hammett, director of Phoenix’s Office of Innovation.  “It’s about getting people in the community to think about the fact that we need to work together.”

City of Phoenix
A team working on their idea during Innovate PHX challenge in April 2023.

The public is invited to watch the teams present their ideas before a panel of judges. The top two teams will receive cash prizes of $3,500 and $1,500, distributed equally among all members.

Judging criteria includes:

  • Problem stated - Does it solve the stated problem?
  • Process – Has the team innovated to build a solution?
  • Solution – Is it reasonable/feasible?
  • Presentation – Was the solution clearly communicated?
  • Scale -  Did they demonstrate scalability?

“Our goal is to have ideas come out of this challenge and work with these folks and prototype the ideas but at the same time they could run with them on their own,” Hammett said. “So, it’s really just about sparking the ideas that could support some of the goals at the city and also community.” 

The inaugural challenge held in April focused on ideas to expand access to chilled drinking water in public spaces. Hammett said the office is currently testing some ideas.

If you go

What: Innovate PHX challenge

Where: Venture Café, 850 N. 5th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004

When: Thursday, Dec. 7, from 5- 7 p.m.

Why: To encourage the community to come up with ideas to increase manufactured shade across the city.

City of Phoenix
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego speaking to participants and spectators at Innovate PHX Challenge in April 2023.

City of Phoenix
Venture Café Phoenix Producer Forbes Shannon (right) with Michael Hammett, director, Phoenix Office of Innovation with participants (Left) in April 2023.
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