Future of Work Hackathon

The ThinkLab Hackathon, held at Jesus College, University of Cambridge, on December 11-12, 2023, was a groundbreaking initiative addressing the underrepresentation of neurodiverse talent in the workforce. Co-hosted by the University of Cambridge ThinkLab, Google Accessibility Discovery Centre, and BBC CAPE, this event fostered collaboration among diverse minds. Attendees experienced two days of immersive activities driven by an ‘accessibility-first’ ethos, resulting in innovative solutions to enhance workplace inclusivity. With projects like “Highlite,” “Neurodiversity Hero Game,” and “Embodied” leading the charge, the hackathon showcased the potential of inclusive initiatives. Stay tuned as these ideas evolve into tangible prototypes, shaping a more inclusive future in the workplace!


Speaker Presentations


Aurelia Deflandre, Neurodiversity Advocacy Lead at Google Ireland, shares her insights at the ThinkLab hackathon focused on the future of work for neurodivergent individuals.

Thomas Roulet from the University of Cambridge Judge Business School and Kiran Bhatti from Wolfson College kick off the ThinkLab 2023 Future of Work Hackathon by discussing the challenges of hybrid and remote work, and especially the valuable concept of wellbeing intelligence as a skillset.


Presenters Gokul Krishnan and Christopher Patnoe share their insight on the importance of an inclusion mindset in the workplace and what that can look like. Christopher is the Head of Accessibility and Disability Inclusion for Google for AMEA, and Gokul is the Inclusive Knowledge Lead at Google. We are very grateful for them for joining us as speakers, mentors, and judges during our big hackathon event.



Join Aker Okoye, a student at the University of Cambridge, as he speaks on his experience at the ThinkLab hackathon. Discussing the profound impact of interacting with professionals beyond the academic sphere, he highlights the depth and specificity they bring to collaborative projects. He also notes the importance of cultivating expertise in specific areas while leveraging insights from diverse perspectives. Reflecting on the event’s in-person format, Aker explores the transformative power of face-to-face interaction in igniting creativity and fostering genuine connections, underscoring the significance of storytelling in innovation.


Aurelia Deflandre, Neurodiversity Advocacy Lead at Google Ireland, shares her insights at the ThinkLab hackathon focused on the future of work for neurodivergent individuals. Aurelia, who is neurodivergent herself, discusses the importance of inclusivity in the workplace and the need for flexibility to accommodate diverse needs. Drawing from her personal experiences and Google’s motto of “nothing about us without us,” she advocates for incorporating lived experiences into workplace design and systems. Aurelia emphasizes the broad spectrum of neurodiversity beyond autism and ADHD, highlighting the need for tailored support for individuals with various neurodivergent conditions.


Christopher Patnoe, Head of Accessibility and Disability Inclusion for Google for AMEA, shares his experience at the ThinkLab hackathon. Christopher discusses his professional motivation to address neurodiversity, emphasizing its relevance for organizations like Google and DeepMind. Reflecting on the hackathon experience, he describes it as enlightening and characterized by thoughtful discussions and honest conversations, and believes it facilitates faster progress towards innovative ideas.

Join Inger Mewburn, Professor at the Australian National University and Director of Research Development, as she offers her insights on the ThinkLab hackathon. Inger highlights the unique opportunity the hackathon provides for interdisciplinary collaboration, particularly among PhD students. She expresses excitement about the blend of forward-thinking companies, academics, and students, noting the creative energy present in the event. Reflecting on the power of listening and empathy, Inger looks forward to seeing the outcomes of the event and the potential to harness the strengths of neurodivergent individuals.

Follow Reanna Brooks and Isobel Brown, research associates at the Cambridge ThinkLab, as they reflect on their experience at the ThinkLab hackathon. Through insightful discussions, they share their journey of planning and organizing the event, highlighting the immense effort and attention to detail required for its success. Reanna and Isobel discuss the significance of creating an inclusive space where individuals from different organizations and industries can collaborate effectively and delve into accessibility measures taken by the ThinkLab team for this event. They underscore the importance of considering diverse perspectives, especially in addressing issues like neurodiversity in the context of future work and hybrid working environments.


Richard Cave, a speech and language therapist working at Google and the MND Association, shares his hopes and ambitions for the ThinkLab hackathon. Richard expresses his dissatisfaction with the current state of technology in supporting people with communication difficulties, especially in the workplace, emphasizing the importance of inclusivity and accessibility in enabling individuals with disabilities to contribute fully. He sees technology, particularly AI, as a tool for inclusivity but stresses the importance of prioritizing people over technology, rather envisioning a future where technology is adapted to the diverse needs of individuals, enabling everyone to live their lives fully.


Follow Samia Mohinta, a data scientist at the University of Cambridge, as she reflects on her experience at the ThinkLab hackathon. Samia shares her motivation for joining the event, citing her involvement in a Wellcome Trust hackathon focused on mental health issues. She views the ThinkLab hackathon as an opportunity to collaborate with industry experts and explore tangible solutions that can benefit both public services and startups and hopes to make meaningful connections and pitch her startup idea to organizations with the power to incorporate it effectively.

Sarah Steele, a legal and behavioral research expert based between the University of Cambridge and the University of Essex, shares her hopes and ambitions for the ThinkLab hackathon. Sarah discusses her experiences navigating different workspaces while being neurodiverse and highlights the opportunity the hackathon presents for catalytic thinking in reimagining the future of work, accentuating the importance of creating inclusive and productive workplaces where diversity is normalized. While success at hackathons may not always be immediate or highly visible, she believes in the power of small wins and collaborative interactions that can pave the way for significant advancements in creating inclusive work environments

Join Thomas Roulet as he shares his idea for making the future of work more inclusive and focused on wellbeing. Thomas discusses the concept of “wellbeing intelligence,” which involves training individuals to understand their own mental health and equipping them with the skills to improve it. He emphasizes the importance of not only detecting mental health issues but also taking proactive steps to address them, both individually and within teams. Through this approach, he aims to create a work environment where individuals can thrive and support each other’s mental health effectively.

Audio Interviews with Hackathon Participants

Maha, interviewed by Tyler Shores




Jiayin, interviewed by Tyler Shores




Sean, interviewed by Tyler Shores




Anamarija, interviewed by Tyler Shores




Praveen, interviewed by Tyler Shores