Hackathon@HKUST (hackUST) 2016 was successfully held on April 16-17 at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), marking the close of the Entrepreneurship Week 2016. Around 440 students and alumni in 91 teams coming from eight local universities were attracted to experience a highly creative weekend. It was the third consecutive student-led Hackathon at HKUST. The number of participants doubled from 225 in 47 teams last year, and nearly increased by four times from 105 in 24 teams in 2014.
There were four tracks opened for participants: mobile gaming, financial technology (FinTech), applications for women consumers (WomenTech), and creative. Participants were free to identify any problems in one of the tracks, formed their own teams, and came up with creative ideas to solve them. Teams were expected to start from scratch to design and build software/hardware prototypes within 24 hours. The overall value of the prizes was around HK$150,000, which was shared by 12 winning teams.
During the 24 hours of development, industry experts and entrepreneurs were invited to serve as mentors to give professional advice to the teams. In addition, recreational activities such as a yoga class and a meditation session were organized to keep the teams energetic and healthy. After the competition, they were required to present their work to a judging panel. This year, a dedicated judging panel for each track was formed by industry professionals, representatives from the sponsors, engineers in the relevant industry, and faculty members.
“President Prof Tony F Chan is very supportive of the Hackathon and I hope HKUST will become a hub in the region for more Hackathon events which will radiate the potentials of creativity,” said Mr Donny Siu of the HKUST Entrepreneurship Center.
The mobile gaming track of hackUST 2016 was sponsored by Madhead App Limited, which was founded by two alumni brothers from the School of Engineering. The company sponsored three prizes (Madhack Winner, 1st Runner-up and 2nd Runner-up), general expenses, and a Taipei trip for the Madhack Winner, all adding to a total amount of HK$100,000. On top of these, Madhead also ran a support counter during the competition to provide free snacks and consultation on mobile game development. The Big Four team, which developed a cartoon-style, multi-player mobile game that involved dodging obstacles, was named the Madhack Winner. The team, which was composed of three HKUST Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) students and one student from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, received HK$20,000 cash prize plus a Taipei round trip. The Taipei trip aims to enrich students’ exposure of the gaming industry in Taiwan and will be organized by Madhead in early June 2016. In addition, Derek, one of the winning team members and a HKUST CSE student, successfully passed the interview after the competition, and will join Madhead as an intern during the summer break. The Madhack 1st Runner-up and the Madhack 2nd Runner-up were given to the Cradle team and the Rockathon team respectively.
The Bank of East Asia App for Lifestyle, the FinTech track award, went to the $.addMONEY() team. The team was formed by four HKUST students who developed an easy and practical personal financing platform for the general public. Their application was well-received by representatives from the Bank of East Asia (BEA). The team is being invited by BEA to have a formal company visit during the summer break. Their application will have a chance to be integrated as one of the online service tools at BEA.
Three special prizes with a total amount of HK$50,000 were set up under the President’s 1-HKUST Student Life Award to encourage the participation of HKUST students and alumni. The President’s 1-HKUST Student Awards were given to the best teams with HKUST students involved, and the prizes went to the IOU team and the ValueRide team. The President’s 1-HKUST Alumni Award was given to the CheapJing team.
In addition to the seven above-mentioned prizes, there were seven other prizes: The Google Anita Borg Birthday Celebration Prize went to the Jannette team, and the team also won the HKUST MBA TechClub Award. The Microsoft Student Spark Award went to the Qnow team. The Radica Think Out-of-the-Box Award went to the IOU team. The BlackPine Audience’s Favorite went to the PicassoMachine team. The Radix hackUST Award went to the Circle team. The BlackPine Most Interesting Clip Award was won by the Apple Pi team, who made the most interesting video clip to summarize the 24-hour creative activities at hackUST.
Along with the main Hackathon competition, more than 10 pre-Hackathon activities were organized to provide a complete experience for all Hackathon participants. These included workshops and talks on Microsoft Azure cloud mobile services, mobile gaming development, professional development for women in STEM and entrepreneurship, FinTech opportunities after Hackathon, as well as a brainstorming workshop for mobile apps. Post-Hackathon opportunities and resources were irregularly provided to the hackUST participants to assist the teams further develop their prototypes.