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Hacking for a brighter future (Hackathon October 2019)

Increasingly viewed by companies and venture capitalists as a way to quickly develop new software technologies and locate new areas for innovation and funding, hackathons encourage participants to push themselves to their creative limits as they attempt to develop workable solutions to real-life problems.

The Classified Post Hackathon is an exhilarating 24-hour challenge open to students and fresh graduates who are enlisted to create winning digital solutions for large corporates. Encouraging participants to transform ideas into reality, the event serves as a platform for teams to develop their prototype, enhance problem-solving skills and also offers the opportunity for them to network with industry leaders from the world of technology. The advantages for businesses getting involved in the competition, meanwhile, is the chance to connect with top talent and spot rising stars.

A contest briefing for The Classified Post Hackathon will be held today at the Classified Post Career Forum to provide background information about the contest and the participating company, HKT.

The contest is open to teams of three to five members, all of whom must be undergraduate and postgraduate students, or graduates with a maximum of two years’ work experience. There is no limitation and restriction on faculty or field of studies. Participants who are creative, think without boundaries, and are curious and passionate are all encouraged to join the competition.

By signing up to take part in the hackathon, students and graduates can give their CV a boost, network with fellow students and practitioners, meet with industry leaders and gain real-life experience of pitching ideas.

Participating teams will be working on topic around Smart Living and required to build solutions based on the data hosted on Hong Kong Science & Technology Park’s Data Studio, an innovation centre with a mission to encourage and stimulate the development of solutions to generate social and economic value from open data and big data.

In terms of judging criteria, there is no fixed answer to the question itself, and it will be judged by the quality and innovative nature of the idea or demo and the utility of the idea/demo.

Kicking off on 18 October, the Classified Post Hackathon will begin with registration at 11am before the 24-hour brainstorm begins at 12nn. The next day, participating teams will be invited to make a three-minute presentation at 1.30pm, after which teams will be selected to move into the final round. Each team will have 15 minutes to make its presentation if they make the final cut, and there will also be a 5-minute Q&A session. Before the shortlisted teams make their cases to the judges at 4pm. The prize presentation will be held at 6.15pm at the Charles K Kao Auditorium at HKSTP before the event wraps up at 6.30pm.

Outstanding contestants will be invited by the participating company to attend their internship programmes or may be considered for future job opportunities. Each team will receive a HK$300 subsidy upon completion of the contest, while the champions will be awarded a HK$10,000 Tap & Go Stored Value and a trophy. A certificate will also be presented to each team member.

The first Runner Up will receive HK$6,000 in Tap & Go Stored Value, as well as a trophy and certificate for each team member, while the second Runner Up will receive a HK$3,000 Tap & Go Stored Value, a trophy and a certificate for all contestants.

Coming up with a solution and translating it into a well-designed prototype within a 24-hour time frame is not without its challenges but participating in the Classified Post Hackathon can be potentially life-changing, with the chance to take on internships and job interviews for the brightest candidates.

Brainwaves and breakthroughs at The Classified Post Hackathon

Demonstrating its commitment to innovation and the art of brainstorming, Classified Post organised its inaugural Hackathon last year, in which participants networked with fellow students, met with industry leaders and gained real-life pitching experience. Now in its third iteration following two successful events last March and November, the competition is already highly regarded by students and education institutes based in the city, while Hong Kong businesses have also welcomed and supported the event, as they have helped unearth innovative ideas and identify future talents, says Alex Ho, Vice President, Recruitment, Circulation & Syndication Business at South China Morning Post.

Held on 18-19 October with a briefing taking place today, the 24-hour challenge will see students and fresh graduates develop digital solutions for large corporates around the theme of “smart living”. To ensure they stand out from the competition, participants will be expected to present ideas that are both innovative and pragmatic. “We are hoping to see lots of creativity and innovation in their presentations, and that the ideas can be executed and implemented in real life,” Ho says.

By signing up to take part in the Classified Post Hackathon, participants can unleash their creativity and show off their skills over an exhilarating 24 hours. They will discover how to work as a team, share responsibilities and make their solutions presentation-ready under the tightest of time constraints. “Honestly, it is reality. In the real business world, they might not have a lot of time to prepare a project or get the solution perfect to present. It might change from time to time due to external factors, so participants will learn to be agile in this fast-moving business world,” says Ho.

Designed to help participants turn their ideas into reality, The Classified Post Hackathon serves as a platform for teams to develop their prototype and enhance their problem-solving skills. They can also meet with industry leaders from the world of tech. “Participants will be working to a tight timeline and need to demonstrate team work, just as they would in a real-life workplace,” he says.

Future participants are urged to consider the team combination as crucial to ensuring their success. “Teams are suggested to work together with people from different majors. Hackathons are not just about technology; they also require creative thinking and good presentation skills to successfully pitch the ideas,” says Ho.

Students and fresh graduates are always looking for unique ways to make their CV stand out and Ho believes taking part in an event such as the Classified Post Hackathon is a sure-fire way to make the right impression on human resources departments. “Participants can put this on their CV to impress future employers and show that they have made a conscious effort to tackle real-life business issues, even in their busy study schedules.”

Given the success of last year’s hackathons, the Classified Post is now committed to this creative event concept. “We will continue to host the Hackathon, and it has become one of our signature events. We always invite different partners to support our Hackathon to provide a wide range of topics and angles for participants.”

Hacking Your Way to Success

Open to university students and fresh graduates looking to push themselves to heady creative heights within a 24-hour time frame, the Classified Post Hackathon helps prepare participants for the world of work by asking them to come up with solutions to real-life problems.

Organised by Classified Post in association with Tap & Go, a mobile payment subsidiary of HKT, Hong Kong’s premier telecommunications service, a briefing session will take place at today’s Career Forum outlining the key details of the contest. The competition is open to teams consisting of three to five university students from any academic discipline as well as fresh graduates with less than two years’ work experience. Taking place on 18-19 October at the Hong Kong Science Park, winning teams will receive Tap & Go payment value, trophies and certificates.

HKT believes participating in the Classified Post Hackathon will enable aspiring business and tech talents to better understand the fast-growing fintech industry and encourage them to explore possible career options. The contest not only provides an opportunity to explore the latest fintech applications but also pick up practical insights from the judges and business and IT professionals. During pre-competition briefing sessions, Tap & Go executives will provide participants with details about the emerging finance, payment and technology trends shaping the mobile payment industry.

Tap & Go have set Classified Post Hackathon 2019 contestants the challenge of identifying a new and unique value proposition that differentiates the company from its competitors in local mobile payment market. As a new HKT business unit, Tap & Go embraces the creativity and agility of Hong Kong’s younger generation. As a user-centric mobile wallet company that targets the younger segment of the market, Tap & Go believes that supporting the Classified Post Hackathon contest will enable the company’s managers to interact directly with university students to better understand their expectations and user behaviour relating to digital financial products.

Young creatives, like any young professionals will inevitably want to make an immediate impact in their workplace, and taking part in a hackathon will help prepare them for the world of work by encouraging them to think outside of the box and work to a strict deadline, seeing a project through from concept to prototype. The best hackers are able to look beyond today’s to-do list and envision where the brand or product should be in the near and far future.

When it comes to recruiting creatives, Tap & Go looks for jobseekers who are eager to absorb new knowledge, particularly in the areas of fintech and the mobile payment industry. As a fast-growing business unit in a competitive business environment, the company is keen to recruit talent that can deliver meaningful contributions to the company. They look for candidates that not only have a good degree but also practical skill sets and an entrepreneurial mindset. Sound critical thinking and the drive to explore the unknown are also desirable traits, as are those who can self-motivate with an inexhaustible appetite for learning.

Being Creative off the Cuff

For university students and fresh graduates excited by the challenge of developing new digital solutions for corporates within a limited time frame, the Classified Post Hackathon is just the ticket. The 24-hour challenge will serve as a platform for them to develop their prototype and network with industry leaders from the world of tech as they turn their ideas into reality.

Organised by Classified Post in association with Tap & Go, a mobile payment subsidiary of HKT, Hong Kong’s premier telecommunications service, the competition will be held over the 18 & 19 October, with a contest briefing to be held today at the Classified Post Career Forum.

One institution that will be supporting the hackathon is Faculty of Business, PolyU, as it believes the competition upholds its vision of nurturing critical thinkers, effective communicators, innovative problem solvers and socially responsible global citizens. The Faculty of Business facilitates the all-round development of students and strives to produce graduates that not only excel in academic performance but also make positive contributions in the workplace and to the wider community. It believes a hackathon provides a platform for out-of-classroom learning where participants develop a range of competencies especially in relation to analytical and innovative thinking, problem solving and teamwork, as well as communication, presentation and other interpersonal skills.

Those students and graduates who have chosen to get involved with the hackathon can look forward to meeting people from different fields and backgrounds, experience the buzz of brainstorming ideas with others, take inspiration from the knowledge and experience of others, and explore different ways of achieving a goal.

The university is realistic about what can be achieved within a 24-hour time frame, with perhaps a proposal and something to demo once the hackathon has come to an end. It doesn’t expect students to work out the best-laid plans and deliver polished products but hopes there is some innovation and originality, and that they can come up with creative ideas and alternative solutions to a problem, then arrive at a conclusion and think about explaining their ideas to others and putting them into action.

One major benefit for those taking part in the hackathon is utilising technology that not all students and graduates, especially the non-computing participants, are familiar with but need to keep abreast of. Working together with designers, software and hardware engineers and interacting with industry experts, is an effective way of acquiring relevant expertise and familiarising oneself with the latest advancements within a short time. Most other competitions are open either to the public or participants from specified fields or areas, whereas hackathons attract entrants from various industries and disciplines.

Another big advantage for students and graduates taking part in a hackathon is learning to handle pressure and working together as a team. Pressure is commonplace in business, in almost all trades, and our daily lives. Coping with pressure is a prerequisite for survival especially in responsible and skilled positions. It’s essential to enable students and graduates not only to withstand the pressure of work and modern life but also, more importantly, to do their best and fulfil their true potential even when they feel under pressure. Working together with teammates from different backgrounds towards a common objective is a real test of cooperation and compromise, judgement and decision.

Ultimately, however, it’s not just about winning but to simply enjoy the experience of taking part. First time participants in particular shouldn’t focus on developing a complete app or winning a prize but instead cherish the experience and make the most of the learning process. Before the hack day, they should familiarise themselves with the judging criteria and intellectual property rights, and talk about division of labour with teammates. On the hack day, they should be frank and open when sharing their viewpoints and taking on board those of the others.

Being able to say that you have taken part in a hackathon will undoubtedly add interest to anyone’s CV. It also helps to extend the participants’ social and professional networks. It would be great if the participants can find prospective employers. If not, at least they can learn something about market demand and employers’ expectations. The participants can also make use of the opportunities to learn more about their favourite companies and dream jobs, career choice and industry prospects,

The Classified Post Hackathon brings considerable benefits to both the subject company and the participants. Participants find such events challenging and rewarding. They make new friends and develop new skills, meet practitioners and counterparts, extend their knowledge and networks.

HKT may be able to adopt some of the concepts and make use of the apps and other products developed during the hackathons, probably with some modification and improvement. It can also identify talent and potential partners and employees.

Connecting Stakeholders to Innovation

The Hong Kong Science & Technology Park is lending its support to the Classified Post’s Hackathon, writes Helen Dalley

A living laboratory where innovative technologies are tested and applied, The Hong Kong Science & Technology Park (HKSTP) is supporting this year’s Classified Post Hackathon as it’s passionate about promoting the concept and benefits of open data and data co-creation among the contestants. “Our Data Studio will provide a secure and experimental environment with open datasets, acting as the trusted data gateway for developers and business partners to accelerate innovation,” says Peter Yeung, head of electronics & ICT clusters, Smart City Platform.

The hackathon will enable the business sector to extract more value and information from their data banks, while the software development community can look into developing functional apps based on the shared data. He believes this collaboration platform will foster the advancement of Hong Kong's data-driven economy.

Yeung says events such as hackathons create opportunities to connect stakeholders to its innovation and technology sector. “We work with industry partners and universities to run theme-based contests for young talents to unleash their creativity. Data is an essential and critical enabler for Smart City innovations. Through events like hackathons, we help nurture a new generation of innovators such as startups and SMEs to thrive in a data-driven economy.”

When the hackathon kicks off over the 18 & 19 October, he hopes to see participants display critical qualities such as logical thinking, analytical skills, problem-solving and presentation skills. “On top of scientific theories and concepts, it is also important for the participants to develop soft skills such as effective communication, so they can be concise when presenting their ideas.” Once their concept is ready to be unveiled, they must focus and be prepared for any questions raised by the judging panel, he adds.

There are many benefits for students and graduates taking part in a hackathon, from their response to handling pressure to the opportunity to work together as a team to create something unique. “The hackathon offers a platform for students to develop skills they’ll need in the real world, including teamwork, problem-solving, and time management,” he says. The participants should aim at showing grit, perseverance and courage in pursuit of excellence. “They should not be afraid to try and not be afraid to fail, as it’s an opportunity to fine-tune their skills and ideas.” Taking part in a hackathon is all part of the learning process and can ultimately make future successes seem more attainable, he adds.

Before they commit to taking part in a hackathon, Yeung asks participants to consider if they are truly dedicated to the cause. “I hope to see the characteristics of an entrepreneurial spirit, including passion for their work, willingness to take risks and constantly thinking out-of-the-box.” With a dynamic innovation and technology sector in Hong Kong, there are more opportunities for the younger generation to pursue careers in the technology field, he adds.

Yeung says that HKSTP always encourages innovations that apply new technologies or embrace new ideas. “Hackathons are just a way to let startups or developers demonstrate their capabilities in identifying and resolving various business challenges. We welcome more hackathons or any activities that accelerate innovations.”

As for the unique selling point of a hackathon over other competitions, Yeung believes such events are not all about coming up with a prototype or working relentlessly but deliver a genuine opportunity for self-growth and skill development.