First Hackathon for the Cultivation for Compounds consortium

Published on 09/12/2022

The first Cultivation for Compounds hackathon (CFC) hosted at the World Horti Centre (WHC) was a success. Honours students from the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) were invited to the World Horti Centre to get a unique insight into the horticultural sector. After introductory presentations and a tour through the facility, the students were divided into groups and assigned to one of seven companies for the hackathon. During the hackathon, students were given 24 hours to tackle questions from companies active in the CFC consortium. Cultivators, represented by Kjell Sneeuw, challenged the students to provide an outsider’s perspective on the medicinal cannabis industry.

Medicinal cannabis gets a lot of media attention, however, the general public often commonly associates it with cannabis for recreational use. Therefore, we invited the students to think about ways to spread awareness about medicinal cannabis while simultaneously reducing stigma. First, the students stressed that the general term “cannabis” can be associated with hippie culture, teenage drug use, and lowered school performance. To mitigate these negative stereotypes, the benefits of medicinal cannabis should be highlighted. For example, by promoting facts about medicinal use and the high-quality standards used during production and processing.

The students recommended a rebranding strategy for medicinal cannabis. This strategy would include a renaming of medicinal cannabis combined with the promotion of its beneficial effects. The proposed new name would be an abbreviation, for example, “MCC” (medicinally cultivated cannabis). A new name allows people to form new associations with the product. They suggest Cultivators could work together with official government associations to promote the new term and increase its credibility. After the groundwork has been laid, cannabis can more easily be featured in course content in academic instances. This will open the way to attract new talents to the industry from the law, business, and medical faculties.

Students from other groups identified universities as places of high potential for the cannabis industry. They stated that students are easily engaged with cannabis, however, they are hesitant to join the industry as horticulture is not seen as a traditional way of employment. If the industry wants to attract students outside the agricultural sphere, we have to show that the medicinal cannabis industry is full of innovation and technology. A good way to showcase the industry is to provide guest lectures and case studies that can be integrated into existing coursework and exams. Furthermore, excursions, workshops, and career days, like the hackathon, could introduce students to the industry.

The students and companies were very positive about the outcome of the hackathon. It provides a fun step into the medicinal cannabis industry for students, while allowing companies to get into contact with future talent. We are already looking forward to the next hackathon. Until then, please join us on our LinkedIn page and follow our website for the latest updates!

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