Institute of Communications and Connected Systems


The UCL Dementia Hack

08 February 2020–09 February 2020, 9:00 am–5:00 pm

Image of peopel sat at computers with overlay of head with brain and connectivity

A Hackathon challenging attendees to create an app that can delay or prevent dementia through encouraging lifestyle change, leading to increased quality of life, and prolonged independent living | up to £10000 awarded to develop the best application.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

UCL staff | UCL students






Prof Miguel Rio – Institute of Communications and Connected Systems | Division of Psychiatry


Jeremy Bentham Room
Wilkins Main Building
Gower Street
United Kingdom


The challenge

Develop an application which will actively encourage behaviour and lifestyle change of those at high risk of developing dementia.

Behaviour and lifestyle changes should address identified risk factors.

User Experience (UX) design of the application will require exploration, considering the target demographics of those at high-risk of developing dementia, and the UX implications of those with potential cognitive impairments.

up to £10 000 will be awarded to one team for the development of the winning application.

Someone develops dementia every 3 seconds. With an estimated 50 million suffering from the disease the number is expected to almost double every 20 years, reaching 75 million in 2030 and 131.5 million in 2050.

Not only does this have a significant impact on the sufferers and their friends and family but with a total estimated worldwide cost of above $1trillion, 1.2 % GDP the economic cost of dementia has far-reaching implications that may not be able to be supported with an ever-ageing population.

35% of dementia instances are attributable to behavioural and lifestyle risk factors. Addressing these risk factor and Delaying Alzheimer's disease onset by only 1 year would reduce the number of cases in people over 60 by 11% worldwide by 2050. 

The solution?

It is proposed that simple life-style and behaviour interventions may be able to delay or even prevent the on-set of dementia, prolonging independent living, reducing the dependency on state-funded care, reducing health costs, and increasing quality of life.

Interventions include:

  • Being more socially and mentally active
  • Eating more healthily
  • Being more physically active
  • Looking after their mental and physical health
  • Stopping smoking
  • Reducing alcohol.

The Hackathon is a 2 -day event where members of the UCL community can come to develop an application which addresses the challenge statement. At the end of the 2 days, teams can pitch their ideas to a board of judges to win a £10 000 investment into the development of their idea. Winners will be supported to develop their idea and the resultant technology will have the opportunity to be trialled in a national trial as part of the Apple Tree Project.

Participants should be members of the UCL community (undergraduate students, postgraduate students, or Staff). Participants may come as a team or as individuals wishing to join forces.

Participants are welcome to attend with friends and colleagues from UCL, as teams, or as individuals. The event will create a social atmosphere in which attendees can find complementary skill sets from other participants and form groups and teams on the day.

Over the course of the two days, participants should develop a demonstratable proto-type of their proposed app.  

Day 1
08th February
10:00Related Technical talks
(Talks to be confirmed e.g. UX, User eXperience, for accessibility, technology for Healthcare)
10:30Let the Hack Begin!
18:00Presentations and feedback
19:00Day 1 close
Day 2
09th February
09:00Open of day 1 - breakfast
16:30Results and awards
17:00Close of Hackathon

The APPLE Tree programme

The UCL Dementia hack is organised by the Institute of Communications and Connected Systems as part of UCL's Division of Psychiatry's ESRC funded APPLE Tree programme.

The APPLE Tree programme is a £3.9m UKRI funded programme which aims to impact the half of older people (aged 60+) who have problems with "cognition" (memory, orientation and other thinking), and therefore a greater chance of developing dementia. APPLE Tree will make and test a prevention programme to lower older people's chances of developing dementia.

ESRC and UKRI logo
NIHR logo

This project is funded jointly by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). ESRC is part of UK Research and Innovation.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the ESRC, UKRI, NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.