Ideathon to Brainstorm Solutions for People Living with Parkinson’s

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is “design thinking”?

Design thinking is an iterative, non-linear way of working that seeks to understand users and solve problems. It consists of five phases-empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test. The process is perfect for situations where the overall challenge is not clear or you have problems that are as yet unknown. 

With rapid technological, environmental and social change becoming the new normal, it’s important for companies to be as agile as possible. Design thinking is a human-centric approach that can help to deal with this environment of constant change. It allows designers to focus on what’s best for the user.


What kind of ideas are you looking for?

There is no such thing as a bad idea, but hopefully your ideas will lead to solutions that can help with the management of PwP symptoms and side-effects, improve research and clinical trial outcomes, accelerate drug discovery, or slow, stop, or reverse the progression of PD.

Who is hosting it?

Rune Labs, a software and data platform company for precision neurology, with headquarters in San Francisco, CA.

Parkython, that’s us! A trio of tech geeks who volunteer in their off hours to catalyze the development of better technology-based solutions for millions of People with Parkinson’s (PwP). We believe the best solutions will result when the whole community comes together to build synergies.

Who can participate?

PwPs, their caregivers, families, friends, coaches, doctors, therapists, dieticians, neurologists, neuroscientists, researchers, professors, students, technologists, app developers, designers, startups, medical device makers, and anyone else who wants to contribute to the cause.

How big will the teams be?

Depending on the final head count, there should be between 4 and 6 people per team, with at least one engineer and one PwP on each.

Where will it be hosted?

In person at Rune Labs HQ in San Francisco and at the University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute. And virtually via Zoom from wherever you are.

Note: Rune Labs address is:  1314 8th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94122 (Map)  We recommend public transport if possible, or catching an Uber or Lyft.  The N-Judah MUNI line from downtown San Francisco drops off a block away (at 9th Ave. and Irving St.)  Metered street parking is available, and some free parking in Golden Gate Park for longer durations.  The closest parking lot is at 7th Ave and Irving St.  If you have a handicap placard, you can park the whole day in that lot and most street parking, but always check the signs carefully to be sure.

Rune Labs Conference Rooms at 1314 8th Ave in San Francisco (just around the corner from their office on Irving St.)

Recommended Parking at 7th Ave. between Irving St. and Judah St.

When will it be?

Friday, April 29th
9am to 4pm PDT
4pm to 12 midnight UTC

Do I have to attend the whole day?

Not necessarily. It is important for everyone on brainstorming teams to participate during the earlier half of the day. In the second half of the day, the engineers will do most of the work building wireframes or simple proofs of concept. At the end, we welcome the general public to join for final presentations and a chance to vote for their favorite solutions.

What is the agenda?

The tentative agenda is as follows (times are for PDT zone):

  • 9am to 12 noon (PST) – Empathy/Define/Ideate
    • Everyone gets involved.   (PwPs, Rune Labs staff, newcomers, trained coders and engineers, researchers, professors, students, startups, caregivers, clinicians, and anybody with a passion for making a difference in the lives of PwPs.)
    • Welcome speeches and overview of agenda.
    • Diverse teams of 4 to 6 people each sit at their tables (virtual, in-person and hybrid) to start brainstorming and discussing ideas
    • Prepare a short elevator pitch (under 3 minutes) to demonstrate your team’s idea, what it solves, and why you believe in it.  (This can be in the form of PPT, role-playing skit, simple narrative, or other format.  Emphasis on creativity.)
  • 12 noon to 1pm – Lunchtime Idea Presentations
    • Break for lunch
    • Each team presents their elevator pitches to the general audience
  • 1pm to 3pm – Create Rough Proof of Concept (POC)
    • Technical leads work to create a wireframe or simple POC based on each teams idea
    • Doesn’t have to be done with code, but should be able to demonstrate the feasibility of idea and how it could connect with Rune Labs platform
    • PwPs are encouraged to stay for this session, but not required if they need a break.
  • 3pm to 4pm – POC Presentations
    • Final presentation of solutions from each team that proves your concept (and what it might take to make it a reality)
    • Voting by participants and general public who can tune in to watch the final presentations
    • Discussion and wrap-up
  • 4pm to 5pm  Post-party
    • Networking and snacks for in-person attendees

What should I do if I want to participate?

Glad you asked! Please fill out our short feedback form to help us plan and form teams, then register on Eventbrite to secure your seat (real one or virtual one).

Why do I need to fill out a form?

This is just to help us plan, form teams, and engage with you prior to the event. For example, we ask about your contact info, hours of availability on 4/29, where you are located (which time zone), what skills and interests you have, technologies and collaboration tools you are familiar with, and what role you may play (PwP, caregiver, engineer, etc.) Also why you want to join. Most answers are optional, and we will not share your contact info with third parties, nor add you to our spam list without your permission.

More Resources

How can I learn more about design thinking, brainstorming, ideathons, and hackathons?

Here are few videos and articles we recommend checking out:

The Design Thinking Process A simple 4 minute video that explains the whole process

Brainstorming Techniques: How to Innovate in Groups A simple 5 minute video on brainstorming, and some common approaches to it.

What is Design Thinking A good read from the design firm, IDEO U.

Demystifying Hackathons A good overview of hackathons and various types and ways of conducting them. We especially like the image below that illustrates the role of the hackathon in the innovation process. In our case, we are trying to get through the discovery and ideation process by lunch time on 4/29 (PDT), then get the teams and their engineers working on rough POC creation. After that, we can all rest for the weekend, but hopefully the practical ideas that come out of the sessions will find their way to execution through collaboration of people who believe in the idea…

In the above case, the “Discovery” process is similar to the “empathy” and “define” phases of traditional design thinking process, and “POC Creation” is a first step in the “Prototyping” phase.

Proof of Concept, Prototype, Pilot, MVP – What’s in a Name?

The image below illustrates the common steps from POC to MVP (“minimal viable product”)