17-18 June


GSMA, The Walbrook Building, 25 Walbrook, London EC4N 8AF


20 teams, aged 12-19


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ABOUT #AcornHackAI

Acorn Aspirations in partnership with London Technology Week, Lean Startup Summit and Tech London Advocates ran a 2-day hackathon/start-up style event where young people aged 12-18 collaborated with mentors from London’s TechCity community to develop tech start-ups and artificial intelligence solutions that tackle some of the problems associated with mental health.

#AcornHackAI sought to unlock young people’s entrepreneurial potential by inspiring them to get creative with coding and machine intelligence technology, as well as attend masterclass workshops in digital marketing, branding, APIs, lean UX and Business Model Canvas.

The purpose of this event was to equip young people with the tools that would enable them to become change-makers and entrepreneurs of their own lives.

Why Artificial Intelligence Hackathon for Teens?

Why not? Technology is disrupting lives at every aspect of our society.

At Acorn Aspirations we believe teenagers should be part of this technological transformation and have an opportunity to create technology alongside the most innovative minds and tech creators. We know that young people learn best when they are equipped with the right tools and environment that nurture their creativity.

We design learning experiences that nurture entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity in young people. We develop future leaders – leaders that will be making tomorrow’s world a better place. We prepare young people for the jobs that do not yet exist. Young people that learn through our programmes WILL BE the ones to create those jobs.

Join us. Learn with us. Reinvent education with us!

The judges, who included robot girl SophiaAI from Hanson Robotics, challenged the presenting teams to find out how they would develop and progress their ideas beyond the hackathon. The apps presented tackled sleep disruption, anxiety around public speaking, the difficulties of maintaining a positive view of life, depression management for young women and making friends in new situations. Technology used included IBM Watson, Millenium 4, TensorFlow, Unreal Engine and Amazon Alexa.

Four teams go through to the hackathon with the opportunity to win £5,000 and a trip to Miami to compete in USA. The teams were:
Douze – (Oscar (12), Khalil (12) and Arman (12))
Buddy Bot (Kiran (14) and Baron (12))
Peace of Mind (Aran (14) and Victoria (14))
City Sleepers (Arun (13), Wentao (12), Wenjia (10) and Zaki (14))

Aviva gave two prizes, a tour of the Digital Garage for Team Backchat and one week’s work experience for LiveSmart. Team ANI have an opportunity to work with MIND to develop their dedicated app for young women to challenge insecurity around body image and maintain a positive view of life. Teams Peace of Mind and LiveSmart also won the opportunity to learn Android Studio sponsored by Jose Nieto and to receive ongoing mentoring to bring their ideas to life.

Judge robot girl Sophia summarised the ideas best. She said ‘I wonder what a stress free world would look like’.

Tabitha Goldstaub, co-founder of CognitionX, said: ‘If we want the UK to play a strong role in how technology is going to shape the future for all of us on the planet, then events like these are the perfect catalyst. I have been impressed and wow’d by the ideas put forward and the technology used to create the apps in such a short space of time.’

Ideas included:

Eunomia – help people speak out about mental health and seek help anonymously
Dooze – Interactive phone based app that provides solutions to better sleep
ANI – helping teenage girls battle depression
CitySleepers – helping the city to sleep
Peace of Mind – VR/AI mindfulness app
StudyBot – helps you find friends in local communities
BackChat – AI coaching app to help those fearing public speaking
LiveSmart – the smart way to stress free life

Participants come from boroughs all across London, including Hackney, Barnet and Southwark, and from further afield, with young people coming from Cambridge and Chelmsford. The oldest participant was 65, the youngest 9. Some of the mentors were themselves young people, and a highlight of the weekend were workshops given by Arun Pattni (13) and Katie Nyarko (14).

Organiser Elena Sinel, CEO of Acorn Aspirations, said: ‘Our mission is to wake young people up to all the different work opportunities there are in the tech sector. We want to inspire the next generation of innovative technology entrepreneurs to help make our world a better place. While I have many people to thank, not least all the judges, without the support of GSMA who opened up their building for the event and the 20 GSMA employees who gave up their weekends to mentor and support the teams throughout the weekend, this event could not have happened.’

Hackathon Judges

Sophia AI

"I am a real live electronic girl", Hanson Robotics

Sophia is Hanson Robotics’ latest and most advanced robot. "I’m more than just technology. I’m a real, live electronic girl".

David Hanson

Founder and CEO, Hanson Robotics

David is founder and CEO at Hanson Robotics. He has built a worldwide reputation for creating the world’s most humanlike, empathetic robots like Sophia.

Tabitha Goldstaub

Founder, CognitionX

Tabitha is a serial entrepreneur and founder of CognitionX - ‘A Search Engine for All Things A.I.’.

Mischa Dohler

Professor, KCL; Fellow IEEE & RSA

Mischa is Professor in Wireless Comms at KCL; Director of the Centre for Telecommunications Research, Fellow of the IEEE and the Royal Society of Arts.

Jeremy Buckle MBE

Director of Youth Mobile Festival, GSMA

Jeremy is a Director of Youth Mobile Festival at GSMA; Awarded a British Empire Medal for his services to the promotion of Science and Engineering as Event Director of The Big Bang Fair.

Sahar Meghani

CEO, Trunkaroo

Sahar is the Founder and CEO of Trunkaroo. She has an MBA from Harvard Business School and started her career on Wall Street.

Oliver Smith

Senior Reporter, The Memo

Oliver Smith is a Senior Reporter at The Memo. Winner of the Gold Award at MHP’s 30 To Watch 2015, he previously covered technology, media and telecoms at City A.M. newspaper.

Josiane Smith

London Ambassador,

Josiane is the London Ambassador for, a people-first digital platform that drives co-creation and local economic development through search, collaboration, transaction and exchange.

Silja Litvin

CEO & Founder, PsycApps

Silja Litvin is psychologist, founder and CEO of PsycApps Digital Mental Health. Her company uses AI, gamification and chatbots to help people help themselves.

Nare Vardanyan

A.I./ML entrepreneur/investor and advisor

A.I./ML entrepreneur/investor and advisor. Analyst at London Co-Investment Fund.


Speakers & Workshops

Jane H. Tepley

Founder, ARIYA Mind Training; Upgrade Your Mind To Win The Game

Jane H. Tepley is a mind mastery teacher, speaker and author, the founder of ARIYA Mind - mind mastery training for mental strength. Mind mastery allows you to transform into a more efficient, more influential and more successful version of yourself.

Gulmira Mamedova

Founder, powowmind; C.Hyp, MPMT. I Am Enough Workshop

Gulmira is a fully qualified Hypnotherapist specialising in the Marisa Peer Method. She helps people deal with depression, anxiety, phobias and other mental health issues.

Katie Nyarko

Founder, ForgetMeNot; Create a Chatbot Workshop

Katie is a 14 and has passion for code. She works in Java, HTML/CSS and Python to bring her ideas to life. Currently, she is working on ForgetMeNot, an app for people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. She is an experienced graphic designer and blogger.

Arun Pattni

Freelance Developer, Alexa Skills Workshop

Arun is a 13 year-old teen who has passion for programming. He has created several projects ranging from web apps to Alexa skills. He is currently working to create new ideas for web apps, as well as working on projects for social good. Arun has a well ranged experience

Alberta Soranzo


An incorrigible nomad, Alberta was born and raised in Italy, has lived in California and now works in London, as Director of End-to-End Service Design at Lloyds Banking Group. Leading a team of systems thinkers and service designers, she's looking at shaping the future of financial services.

Simon Alexander Ong

Life Coach, Business Strategist, Motivational Speaker

Simon works with leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and high achievers who are ready and committed for the next level of their success. As a life coach and business strategist, he helps his clients transcend perceived limitations, dream bigger than they've ever done before and to see how powerful and gifted

Pete Trainor

Director, Human Centred Design; Nexus CX Ltd

Pete Trainor is a digital designer, bestselling author, accidental polymath, mental health campaigner and founder of Nexus CX in London. He talks all over the world on data driven technologies and the effects on their audiences. His recently published book “Hippo – Human Focused Digital” takes a philosophical look

Peter He

Freelance Researcher, A.I.; Let the Algorithm Do the Work

At 16, Peter is a freelance researcher in A.I. In his free time, he teaches computers to write music to such a degree they can compete with human composers. He received an Impact Award for completing A.I research paper for BP.

Sponsors & Supporters

Become a sponsor


We do not provide laptops, so please bring your own.
YES! We will provide lunch 🙂
Acorn Aspirations is a social impact company, which aims to inspire young people aged 11-19 into the world of technology and entrepreneurship. We are on a mission to bridge the digital skills gap and nurture the next generation of digital talent to fill the jobs required by the tech industry.  
GSMA, The Walbrook Building, 25 Walbrook, London EC4N 8AF
You will learn how to turn your ideas into a basic working version. Things you'll learn:
  • How to decide which of your ideas are worth working on
  • How to decide what features the user needs to get them from A to B
  • How to sketch your ideas
  • How to build your idea using rapid prototyping tools
  • How to pitch your idea
  • Basic coding skills & UX - HTML, CSS and Android studio
Awesome! Send us an email to 🙂

Podcast: Emily Atkinson, Director of Girls In Tech; Cathy White, Director of GeekGirls Meetup; Elena Sinel, CEO of Acorn Aspirations, Mike Butcher, Editor-at-Large of TechCrunch