After the coding comes the pitch. The 36 hours of coding and programming all came to an end at 10:00 am, Sunday morning, and the participating teams were given the platform to pitch their ideas and solutions that will prepare Africa for the fourth industrial revolution.
A Little Background
Hacklab Foundation is a not-for-profit organization, established since September 2015 in Ghana, focused on preparing the youth for future jobs, by helping them develop their skills, connecting them to industry and breeding entrepreneurs who create jobs for others.
The Foundation is known for its Annual Hackathon/ Technology Conference which brings together developers, engineers, designers, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in Technology to meet and discuss issues arising, identify opportunities and the way forward in making Ghana a better place using technology. With over 200 people under one umbrella, they compete and develop industry standard solutions to address local problems in 36 hours.
The hackathon has been running consistently for the past 3 years.
The theme for this year’s Hackathon was ‘Building Fourth Industrial Cities; Are we ready?
Participants were therefore required to create solutions that will prepare the continent for the coming age, integrating technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), Blockchain Technology, Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, and the Internet of Things(IoT).
A total of 112 teams participated in this year’s hackathon, surpassing the numbers from last year over 80 teams.
Winners’ categories at this year’s hackathon were 8 in total; Vodafone Special Award, Best Product Idea Award, Best Business Pitch, Most Promising Developer Award (Female), Most Promising Developer Award (Male), Second Runner-Up, First Runner-Up, Overall Winner.
The idea pitches were judged by a panel of experienced tech enthusiasts, programmers and leaders in the tech space in Ghana based on the following criteria;
- Integration of modern technologies (AI, VR, IoT, etc)
- Feasibility of Business Model
1. Vodafone Special Award – Team SOS
This award was an honorary award presented to the team that had the best Social Responsibility idea that aligned with that of Vodafone Ghana. Team SOS were deemed fit for this award for their crowdfunding platform, that will help financially handicapped individuals seek for funds to pay for their medical bills. They received GHS2,500 and Vodafone branded pen drives.
2. Best Product Idea – Team Mandem
Team Mandem were awarded GHS500 and for their Etherthumb platform that will help check voting irregularities. One of the main criterion that a solution should satisfy according to this year’s hackathon is the integration of modern technology and this team from Ho Technology got that just right, amidst other satisfactory checks like simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and ease of use. They were also beneficiaries of mentorship programmes.
3. Best Business Pitch – Team Room 63
An idea is not enough of an idea if it is not marketable. This is what the business pitch aspect of the hackathon sought to address. Participants were given a platform to deliver a short presentation on what their idea is about and demo it as well. The operational plan of the idea must be complemented with a business plan that is likely to attract investors for funding. Room 63, a team that has a record of great pitches, the winners in this category. At last year’s Hacklab, Room 63 won the best pitch, and this year was no different. Not only did they have a great idea – a web application called Ready Farm, they also had the oratory prowess to sell their idea well. They took home GHS500 and a mentorship programme.
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4. Most Promising Developer Award (Female) – Team FemCode
Gender equality has been a huge talk globally and especially in the STEM field. Many companies are being encouraged to employ more female developers, and as such many organizations have evolved to empower women to venture into the STEM field. At this year’s hackathon, 2 of such all-female teams represented. The team at Hacklab thought it wise to use this platform to encourage more females into the industry.
These women proved that when given equal opportunities they can do equally well as their male counterparts. Team FemCode, an all-female team of tech geeks, took home the coveted ‘Promising Developer Award (Female)’ with their platform, GOTCHAthat helps check environmental hazards. They bagged GHS800 in cash, Microsoft Technology Associate Voucher from Certified Ghana and Project Mentorship.
5. Most Promising Developer Award (Male) – Team Alpha
At hackathons, you get to see highly talented programmers build software in a matter of hours. it’s a great way to assess programming efficiency, the need to create usable software, stack of technologies and how well teams work together to develop a product. The developer team that succeeded at some of the more difficult algorithmic-based problems in Artificial Intelligence within a short period of time was Team Alpha. They developed a nutrition voice assistant called Mama Dorc that enables a consumer to check the nutritional content of meals and recommends foods that improve diet whilst providing the opportunity for the user to purchase foodstuff easily. They took home a cash prize of GHC 800.00, a Microsoft Technology Associate Voucher from Certified Ghana and Project Mentorship. (source; darteymedia.com)
6. Second Runner-Up – Team Room 63
For a team that has won Best Business Pitch twice in a row, you could say Room 63 has mastered the art of winning. After failing to win big last year, they came back with a more refined, award-winning solution.
“ReadyFarm is a crowd farming application built using Google’s Machine Learning TensorFlow and DialogFlow that enables anyone to remotely invest in farms or livestock, diversify invested assets and make money with the sole aim of tackling Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1 and 2. They won a cash prize of GHC 1,500.00, 3 laptop sleeves from Vodafone Ghana and mentorship to scale their business”. (source; darteymedia.com).
7. Second Runner-Up – Code Vision 1
Code vision 1 is a team that worked on a project called Blink. The application is centred on making life more easier by using facial recognition to keep the home more safe and easy by controlling lights and other gadgets at home. They took home GHS2000, laptop sleeves from Vodafone Ghana with mentorship to scale their idea. (source; darteymedia.com).
8. Overall Winner – Team Mandem
Cryptocurrency has been one of the most talked about topic in the tech space in 2017. The technology behind it, Blockchain is one that is future ready. Blockchain Technology is still a growing and becoming acceptable among tech developers. It came as quite a surprise to the audience when Team Mandem demo’d their idea, EtherThumb, a blockchain powered e-voting system that checks voting irregularities during elections.