A Life Less Analog, Technology

Impact Hackathon: Why the geeks shall inherit the earth

Technology column header

The COVID-19 pandemic is the asteroid that will finally make the dinosaurs extinct. And by dinosaurs I mean individuals and companies who still refuse to embrace digital. I truly believe this. Which is why I’m happy that Impact Hub Manila (IHM) is bringing back Impact Hackathon to create genuine change in society. This year’s Impact Hackathon will be held virtually on Aug. 17-21. It aims to reboot the economy through inclusive digital innovations in five verticals. These include climate change, education, food and agriculture, health and wellness, and smart cities.

Only those who are still in denial think that things will “go back to normal”. The COVID-19 pandemic is the end of the world as we know it. It is a turning point in human history that has accelerated digital transformation. So don’t listen to the dinosaurs. Don’t listen to the defenders of the status quo who want to go back to doing the same things. Instead of using this disruption as an opportunity to build a better post-pandemic world. Not just the new normal, but a better normal.

Social impact

Impact Hub Manila is bringing back Impact Hackathon to create genuine change in society.

“I am very optimistic and I truly believe that technology is the great enabler. It has completely democratized a lot of things that we’re doing,” IHM Founder and CEO Ces Rondario said in response to a question from Digital Life Asia in the press briefing.

IHM is a social impact incubator and a network of impact-driven entrepreneurs and changemakers. Rondario, who is also the Regional Lead of Impact Hub APAC, founded the first Impact Hub in the Philippines in 2015.

Unifinity, a technology startup that aims to tokenize the education system via blockchain technology and smart contracts, is one of IHM’s partners for this year’s Impact Hackathon.

COVID-19 and disruption

“As we all know, COVID-19 totally disrupted not just different types of industries. It also disrupted education. All of our processes, all of the companies, businesses, are now shutting down. So how can technology help in creating a better future for all of us? Especially now during COVID-19, everyone’s staying at home. The number one thing is that they can use technology to continue their current business processes. They can also change their workflow by having people work from home. And I’m very optimistic that technology can definitely help education. This is why I love that the concept of Impact Hub is to empower more Filipinos and at the same time give them the opportunity to showcase their knowledge and talents through this global event,” Unifinity Founder and CEO Veronica Andrino said in response to Digital Life Asia’s question.

Partners for each Impact Hackathon vertical will pose problem statements for the participants to hack, through viable tech solutions.

The goal of each participating team is to create minimum viable products by the end of the hackathon week. Winning ideas will be incubated by IHM and its partners who will also support the scaling of the projects to ensure impact and sustainability.

Winners will take home over US$100,000 worth of prizes, including access to IHM’s incubation program and global network of experts and entrepreneurs.

Resilient societies

As a climate activist, I participated in the Global Climate Strike held from Sept. 20-27, 2019. What the COVID-19 crisis has shown us is that we need to fight the pandemic and the climate crisis simultaneously. And that the dinosaurs and defenders of the status quo were lying when they said society can’t immediately change.

Greta Thunberg emphasized this in that article.

“If one virus can wipe out the entire economy in a matter of weeks and shut down societies, then that is a proof that our societies are not very resilient. It also shows that once we are in an emergency, we can act and we can change our behaviour quickly.”

Impact Hackathon is part of Impact 2050. This is a multi-year program designed by IHM to create large-scale economic impact by cultivating the Philippine startup and innovation ecosystem.

Last year’s Impact Hackathon gathered over 80 partners, and 300 mentors and jurors for the 1,700 participants, which yielded 186 completed projects. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted an urgent and dire need for sustainable innovations to build a resilient nation.

Hacking the world

Through digital solutions and impact-driven entrepreneurship, Impact 2050 also aims to contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

As a certified geek, I’m proud that it is the geeks who are leading the way in transforming the world. I have always believed that technology is a force for good. So I’m really happy that thousands will be joining Impact Hackathon to help build a better world. I’m also glad that another certified geek, Mike Abundo, hosted the IHM press briefing and did an awesome job. He’s been a comrade in the ongoing digital revolution for as long as I’ve known him.

So don’t listen to the dinosaurs. They will soon become extinct. And the geeks shall inherit the earth.