[OKFN-AU] Age article: Hackathons the problem solver

David F. Flanders david.flanders at ands.org.au
Tue Jun 18 06:11:09 UTC 2013

*Hackathons the problem solver*

*m.theage.com.au | Jun 18th 2013*

''A hackathon is about letting your employees think for themselves,'' Mr
Raik-Allen said. ''They understand your business, they understand what is
possible, and they understand your systems. And when you put that together,
that's where innovation comes from.''

Interest in hackathons is growing rapidly, with the recent GovHack event
involving about 1000 people around Australia, including Perth, to work with
government data. This month, British Airways conducted one at 30,000 feet
when it flew 130 technology professionals from San Francisco to London for
its UnGrounded Innovation Lab in the Sky.

Sydney-based incubator Pollenizer has organised hackathons for numerous
organisations, including one for Sensis that brought in external people to
generate ideas based on that company's core technology.

Pollenizer co-founder Phil Morle said he was now receiving interest from
other large businesses.

''We've got three very big companies that would like us to do the same
thing,'' Mr Morle says. ''This is a cost-effective new way of creating new
innovation and ideation - the cost of this is minute in comparison to
having an enterprise-grade team doing a requirements document.''

Hackathons are also proving to be a low-cost way for not-for-profit
organisations to get access to skills and ideas.

In April the mobile developer Alive staged its first Appathon, which used
the hackathon concept to bring together engineers and entrepreneurs to
develop mobile applications for a group of not-for-profit companies.

Alive's general manger Matthew Ashley said the event was designed to
support companies that could not normally allocate budget to develop a
mobile application.

''It was staggering to see the level of participation from individuals
giving up their weekends,'' Mr Ashley said.

"People's commitment to doing some good and giving something back was
really quite staggering."

First prize was the opportunity to have the application taken through to
completion, but Mr Ashley said the majority of not-for-profits had also
been continuing discussions with developers and mentors. A second Appathon
is now scheduled for late August, focused on the health care sector.

Similarly, Pollenizer's recent Appiness event held in conjunction with
Telstra brought together 50 participants and an additional 50 mentors to
develop ideas for mobile applications for a group of six charities,
including Mission Australia, the St Vincent de Paul Society and the
Salvation Army.

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