Singapore Hackathon Tackles Issues In Society

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A team that designed a mobile marketplace that connects community farmers to buyers was the winner of Startup Weekend Singapore.

The 54-hour hackathon saw over 450 participants and lasted from 25–27 September. They were tasked with solving issues on mental health, unemployment, exploitation of vulnerable communities, and climate change. The winning team, LePlants, were awarded credits to training courses and product analytics services that were part of $259,000 worth of prizes.

At the closing session, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said: “Start-ups and hackathons are often associated with business ventures but can also be used to solve societal challenges.”

He added, “as we come together to look at how transformation can bring every one of us a better life, I think it’s important that we think about it, not just in the business sense.”

Why should I get involved?

Hackathons like Startup Weekend Singapore have churned out startups such as Carousell, a mobile classifieds marketplace. Facebook’s own hackathons were responsible for introducing the like button and chat features. They provide a platform with a strict deadline to break you out of your routine. Everyone starts on the same page with the same goal in mind. You can successfully build something from scratch or fail in a safe space.

The founder of live-streaming platform Twitch, Justin Kan, said, “the fact that so many people now have smartphones that are essentially a ‘computer in their pocket’ opens up new opportunities for training and education.”

“Sometimes very simple apps can start creating a significant change for people,” he added.

But what if I can’t code?

Hackathons enable people from different backgrounds to come together to work on a solution. The end result is not just a pile of code, it includes an immersive story, design, and comprehensive research.

Coding applications are just be the tip of the iceberg. Engineers, artists, and scientists can also work together on new prototypes or short films. These events enable people who would rarely cross paths in their daily jobs to collaborate on ideas that will benefit our society.

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