Local Hackers, Hustlers and Hipsters headed to Dantia Smart Hub on 16-17Jun2017 to compete in a hackathon focussed on exploration of regional transport integration across Land, Sea, Air + Digital domains. Thanks to the contributions of local sponsors and supporters, they were offered a prize pool worth $10000 to pitch concepts related to 3 core Challenge topics:
1. Bus and beyond: how can we innovate, optimise or combine our use of existing transport options?
2. Pedalling for impact: how do we make cycling experiences a more user friendly, integrated option in Lake Macquarie and beyond?
3. Lake Mac to Sydney: T-90 how can we optimise the use of rail and other transport modes to unlock the potential of our proximity?
Entrants pitched their ideas on Friday night, forming into teams and getting straight into concept planning, ready for Saturdays 8am-4pm rapid prototyping work. Teams developed business and software concepts, interviewed local transport users, drew on global travel experiences and applied sponsor supplied technology platforms to Open Data sets before pitching their ideas at 5pm to local judges. From the crucible of their fast teaming experiences emerged 3 winning concepts:
Event producer, Brian Hill, Founder of Laughing Mind, noted:
Whilst event winnings and the kudos that comes with it are a part of the buzz of a hackathon or solvathon, these events help to strengthen new entrepreneurship and digital DNA of our regions, new collaborations and build network density of startup initiatives over time. We're running events like this as part of our Venture Catalyst event series to stimulate regional Australian innovation and quicken the digital pulse of our communities by weaving their contributions into the event in real time. Our delivery model is putting them onto the global map by making teams efforts visible to international audiences whilst they're being built.
Peter Francis, CEO of Dantia (LakeMacHack event hosts and core sponsor), in reflecting on the event, said:
We're delighted to see the evident enjoyment of LakeMacHack from local competitors and the quality of their work in such an intense, short event format. It's helped show our region is ready and willing to get on the front foot and explore what regionally relevant technology innovation looks like as a way of building, connecting and showcasing our beautiful location and community. We're humbled by the generosity of the organisations that saw the value of this initiative and look forward to working with them as we build on this inaugural event.
Details of each of the teams submissions have been published onto the events delivery platform at https://lakemachack.devpost.com/submissions for local and international innovators to provide comment and support for the teams next steps. Team learnings from engagement with public datasets are being communicated to their respective owners and agencies.
LakeMacHack is a Venture Catalyst event produced by Laughing Mind for Dantia. Designed as a short format event, it's mission is to grow the capacity of Lake Macquarie businesses and community teams to collaborate on joint technology projects, with the guidance of experienced mentors for well targeted + responsive initiatives, leveraging contemporary technology platforms.
Tackling 3 big regional transport questions in a Hackathon
In our upcoming Hackathon, we're asking teams to re-interpret the potential of our transport systems and connectivity between them with the following 3 big questions:
Q1: Bus and Beyond: how can we innovate, optimise or combine our use of existing transport options?
Q2: Pedalling for Impact: how do we make cycling experiences a more user friendly, integrated option in LakeMacquarie?
Q3: LakeMac to Sydney: T-90 and counting. How can we optimise the use of rail and other transport modes to unlock the potential of our proximity?
Let's break these down a bit and explore each of them.
Bus and Beyond
Pedalling for Impact
Cycle based tourism has had real economic impact in regional Tasmania and is well known for creating exciting visitor experiences in spots like Whistler or Portland USA, Queenstown NZ or Thredbo in summer. Startups like CycleLifeHQ have realised this and started to curate content showcasing cycling destinations around the world, including Australia.
Areas of Lake Macquarie offer great riding destinations with their mix of foreshore, forest and ocean views, but are poorly leveraged and integrated into a regional tourism experience. For example - if we could circumnavigate the East and West sides of the Lake, connect sections with diverse cycling and recreational adventure experiences, we could attract significant domestic and international rider interest and enhanced local options.
Groups around the world are reinterpreting bicycle use through initiatives like CycleHack What might we discover by applying some of that design thinking within our region? With technology innovation heavily influencing and evolving bicycle design, eBike choices are proliferating and lowering the barrier to positive cycling experiences, with designs now integrating cargo carrying choices better than ever before. Locally, we've got great innovations happening, from foreshore cycling experiences with LynchsHub, the HunterEV Festival eBike races and eBike share schemes from Bykko, but there's so much more potential yet to activate our regions assets.
The National Heart Foundation are working hard to encourage each of us to build more active transport choices into our daily routines, for good reason - check their Healthy Active Communities initiative and resources.
LakeMac + Sydney = T90
T-90 is a call to action to create a viable 90min trip to Sydney or back, whilst also making productive use of journey time. If you're using rail services now, what does your journey time look like? How could it be reimagined to make it a more productive and efficient choice? Whilst we know a hackathon won't deliver upgrades to rolling stock or corridor realignments, we know there's more to be achieve through the lens of innovation by setting a 90min transit target to help shape thinking about what would be needed to make it achievable.
Innovation cues beyond the event
Beyond LakeMacHack, we're seeing resurgent interest in tackling the problems of creating liveable cities and their accessibility challenges for more vulnerable users. We're looking forward to seeing what our event teams can produce for urban space development and personal mobility choices that make our region a compelling and attractive choice.
The following article is a reprint of an earlier published post from Laughing Mind:
Hackathons are a rapid discovery and prototyping event to help people with initiative move from Idea to Action + early Traction. It's a short event format that sees them pitch an idea, form a team, build a concept or working prototype within a weekend or less, whilst getting exposure and access to new technologies, teams and problem owners.
We've been delivering and competing in Hackathons and Venture Catalyst events, testing techniques, support tools, event formats and Challenge topics that stimulate new ideas for stubborn problems. We've seen what excites people, how they form teams and select technologies to address challenge topics and working concepts delivered within surprisingly short time-frames. Through this journey, we've delivered a range of regionally based innovation events and seen exciting new initiatives emerge, whilst validating where hackathons sit in the Innovation + Entrepreneurship Value Chain.
We've supported, partnered and worked with established incubators, accelerators, Government Agencies and Universities. We know there's a need for Australia to boost its innovation game in a hotly contested marketplace of ideas, fast paced tech change and smart investment. We need to stimulate the startup ecosystem to help foster bigger appetites for people to experiment with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths) skills, new technologies and take a shot at solving old problems in new ways. It will help prepare us to move from technology consumption to technology creation patterns, creating new value else we risk being left behind faster moving countries and economies. On this front, Australia is lagging and needing large scale acceleration.
Hackathons are a useful event pattern for accelerating innovation within and between companies and teams, helping them to create new products or solve persistent challenges with short, sharp bursts of focused effort. It's why internal innovation initiatives like Shipit at Atlassian become part of the DNA of product development and anticipation, preparation for disruption. By ensuring focus on Challenge topics that matter and inspire action - HealthCare, SmartCities, City Accessibility, RenewableEnergy, AgedCare, Regional Transport, Social Impact, we deliver impactful change, quicken the digital pulse of our communities and results for contemporary problems.
We've confirmed what they're not.
A Hackathon is not a formal, highly structured Incubation or Acceleration experience - but it's a taste of it. There are a range of great companies who Incubate+Accelerate, many of which you'll see in maps like StartRail. However, a Hackathon can be a great start to the incubation journey by helping you pitch and develop an idea, form a team to help build, test it, validate its usefulness with audiences in a short timeframe. Formal incubation of teams with useful ideas or solutions is a logical next step, with groups like Slingshot, BlueChilli and others. Teams that get strong traction and start seeing growth progress into bigger things, like funding, investment, access to new, larger clients and revenue. That's when they start to move into Scale challenges and Acceleration support to help them grow.
They're not deep, complex Intellectual Property generators - but you can build a team with potential.Complex scientific endeavour takes long lead times to train, specialise, hypothesise and waves of investment-test cycles. Let's not kid ourselves - there's only so much you can achieve in a weekend with strangers. However, they're the sort of event where you'll find pioneering spirits and a diverse mix of talents, that you can opt to team up with or collaborate with beyond the event experience. The connection between event participants is taking place in a crucible experience, quickly establishing trust and the chance to showcase or build your skills, get exposure to new possibilities. You might find though, that those productive encounters can see you team with more diverse skills that DO lead to follow on IP generation. We've seen teams form in the course of an event that have seen viable, valuable IP of merged technology platforms.
They're not a Funding event - but they can start you on the path to one. We've seen increased appetite to explore edge innovation through hackathons- it helps identify an array of potential solutions to challenge topics. Winners are typically getting an incentive prize that covers cost, follow on incorporation support or in-kind services that can progress a concept into something that is more fully developed and fundable. The novelty cheques are a fun reward and for some, can pay the bills, but are intended to help kickstart a bigger journey. We're increasingly seeing innovative agencies structuring to provide some of that next round of support.
They're getting more diverse + better, with positive impact effects
We've been part of new knowledge formation and Hackathon Communities of Practice across the globe and within Australia, where event hosts share knowledge, growth tips and moral support. They're an inspirational, talented group of hardworking, connected, generous, innovative individuals wanting to accelerate the pace of innovation in their communities in practical, targeted and fun ways. They're creating event formats to learn, team, experiment, make and fail fast, with support. They're also committed to building a bigger, better, brighter YOU. In the process, we're also building the literacy of technology experimentation, Maker skills and strengthening network density of entrepreneurial skills in our communities.
There's more coming.
Established organisations are increasingly exploring how hackathons and venture catalyst events can enhance edge-based innovation to help see what's on the horizon and prepare for it. Corporates and Governments are realising the inherent value of smart innovation and the need to test ideas, fail fast and learn quickly to maximise effective use of capital.