After months of anticipation, Impact Hub’s Impact Hackathon finally kicked off on October 30. Serving as an official attempt at the Guinness World Records for biggest hackathon, the 24-hour activity gathered 10,000 participants across the Philippines and Asia-Pacific, with 3,500 stationed at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, its main venue.

The challenge is to create sustainable, tech-based solutions for climate change, education, agriculture, smart cities, and health and wellness. Aside from being anchored on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, these five problem areas were also chosen for their pressing relevance in the country and region.

For example, the smart cities vertical presents various problems from specific locales. This includes the need for solid waste management measurement system in Manila Bay and easier data-sharing and –monitoring within Quezon City Hall.  

Upon code freeze, when all participants must stop developing their projects, the solutions will be judged against four criteria: 

  • technical viability, or impressiveness of the technology utilized
  • business viability, or the solution’s feasibility and scalability in the local market 
  • social index, or the ability of the solution to actually solve the given problem
  • and design and learning stretch, or the learning curve that the team underwent during the hackathon.

Starting small

It’s par for the course during hackathons that the solutions should try to make the world a better place. But according to Donald Lim, Country CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Philippines, it’s time for innovators to aim bigger and go for saving the world.

“Do not create band-aid solutions… Small improvements will not make you win,” he said. “If you think that the problem lies in a particular segment, try to find a transformation solution rather than just making small improvements.”

While the gravity of the goal suggests that the solutions must be global in scale, participants were called to look a little closer to home. “What’s closest to our heart are the [problems] that we experience in our everyday lives,” said former senator and social entrepreneur Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV. “Start from there… what situations here in the Philippines can help produce solutions that may be used in other countries?”

Ultimately, saving the world is a collective effort—one that starts from within a team and can bloom into something bigger. 

“Everyone here is competing… but after the time is up and you’ve pitched, I hope that you will find ways to cooperate and collaborate with each other,” said Aquino. “Nobody usually gets the solutions right the first time. But [after] the second and third try, [and] this time powered and supported by other individuals, that’s what usually creates the solutions that can really change the world.”