On 15th November 2015, Social Innovator’s Hack team presentations marked the end of a two-day hackathon that brought together social innovators and passionate citizens to accelerate the growth of the social sector through technology.
The Social Innovator’s Hack, jointly organised by UP! Singapore, Social Innovation Park and HPE Helion, sought to uncover solutions to “strengthen Singapore’s growing Social Enterprise sector”.
The two-part hack began with a workshop on November 3rd that oriented participants to the social sector. This was led by The HUB Singapore CEO and Co-Founder Grace Sai, CE Engineering Managing Director Christian Eber, and A*STAR Research Engineer Wan Kum Seong, who have expertise in developing social enterprises, training vulnerable communities, and volunteer engagement respectively. The hackathon officially took place on November 14th and 15th, at the BASH (Build Amazing Start-ups Here) facility in the JTC Launchpad.
Participants were game for spontaneous play, ready to develop themselves, network with likeminded people, and rapidly prototype ideas. “I came because I wanted to grow my skills,” said Jared Tong, a coder behind volunteer recruitment platform Careville. Like many others, Tong did not know his team members prior to the pre-hackathon workshop. “Even if you don’t have any tech background, you will be surprised at how much you can contribute to the team,” said Diyanah Kamarudin, whose team came in first despite it being her virgin hackathon experience.
Solutions ranged from making volunteer management more personalized, to improving alerts from elderly persons in need, to allowing social sector professionals to connect on a “LinkdIn”-type platform. Social Dash, the project which won the $2, 000 grand prize, aimed to provide a B2B marketplace to match for-profit organisations with non-profits to procure corporate gifts.
In Singapore, the hackathon movement is becoming more popular, with hackathons to innovate solutions for a diverse range of concerns – from addressing women’s rights, to improving tourists’ experience of Chinatown, to empowering persons with disabilities, to strategies for managing employee retention. Hackathons have been identified by SMART Nation Minister-in Charge Vivian Balakrishnan as a “key inflection point” of the SMART Nation initiative. The concept of allowing people to “use their imagination to give us real solutions, innovative solutions” is a feasible means of encouraging greater participation, he noted. If it works, he said, “we’ll upscale it, we’ll nationalise it.”
What change will you create overnight?
Here’s an insiders’ view of a social hackathon experience featuring exclusive interviews with participants and organisers.