Impact Hub Manila launches record attempt at world’s biggest hackathon

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Since the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) were first set in 2015, each participating country has been pulling their own efforts to meet them by the designated deadline of 2030. And while the Philippines has made its progress, the country’s current rank and score signals a need to push even further.

With roughly 10 years left, it’s going to take more helping hands to achieve the UN SDGs. And by gathering the nation’s most brilliant innovative minds, Impact Hub Manila hopes to hack together solutions for the future with their world record attempt at the largest simultaneous hackathon to date.

Increasing relevance

Impact Hackathon is a 24-hour, on-the-spot coding marathon that will be held from October 30 to 31. It’s an official Guinness World Records attempt for the title of biggest hackathon. Currently, that title goes to the Hajj Hackathon, with 2,950 participants. The Impact Hackathon is looking to gather over thrice that number, with estimates at 10,000 participants across the Philippines and Asia-Pacific — 3,500 of which will be stationed at its main venue of Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Aside from the central hubs like Taguig, secondary cities and provinces like Palawan, Iloilo, and Cagayan de Oro were included in a push for countryside development. “We want them to create their own ecosystem so that they don’t have to keep coming to Manila, Cebu, or Davao,” said Ces Rondario, founder and CEO of Impact Hub Manila. “We need to decentralize the opportunities and access.”

The goal of the hackathon is to generate a new crop of innovative solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing the human race today. Impact Hub’s hypothesis is that, as one of the global leaders in tech talent, the Philippines has what it takes to be a tech leader spearheading change towards a better world. The hackathon is set to put that theory to the test.

Participants will be challenged to create sustainable, tech-based solutions for problems anchored on the UN SDGs such as climate change, education, agriculture, smart cities, and health and wellness. In addition to being pressing issues in the Philippines and the region, they were also chosen for their relevance to certain areas. Participants from Visayas, for example, may be tasked with creating solutions towards digitizing coastal communities.




“I’ve met a lot of entrepreneurs in the past [that] offer a solution looking for a problem,” said Marc Lepage, technology innovations specialist at Asian Development Bank (ADB). “It’s really putting in front of those very talented youth [the] problems that they face everyday but they would not think about as potential business opportunities.”

Strong solutions today, maximum impact tomorrow

In order to hone the full potential of the winning solutions, Impact Hub created Impact 2050, an entrepreneurial program that aims to accelerate the Asia-Pacific impact entrepreneurship ecosystem. The four-phase program began in September with the Elevate National Startup Roadshow, continuing with the Impact Hackathon.

In November, the hackathon’s winners will present their solutions to a panel of judges at 2050fest, where they’ll compete for seed funding, networking opportunities, and hands-on mentorship.

Finally, the program will culminate with Incubate 2020, a year-long training program by Impact Hub’s mentors and partners.

Patterning the program after the natural progression of a startup — flowing from education, to ideation, to discovery and networking, and finally to incubation — the plan is for winning participants to grow their solutions into sustainable, stable businesses.

“After many years of being part of the ecosystem, we realized that there’s a need to focus on supporting entrepreneurs who not only had a purpose, but could scale their technology,” said Rondario. “And I thought that we needed to answer the question, ‘What solutions do we want to see created by our entrepreneurs by 2050, and how do we truly future-proof today?’”



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