Ministry of Data was proud to announce the winners of its 2018 hackathon, AgHack, held recently at Spacecubed. The annual event, now in its second year, attracted over 100 attendees, 74 participant ticket sales, 11 teams, 10 mentors and 2 state ministers.
What sets MOD hackathons apart from the rest is that the ‘problems to be solved’ are presented weeks ahead of time from government departments. Willing programmers, creatives and business types then form teams and take on one of the problems, looking to develop a solution over the weekend.
In this way, budding entrepreneurs are given real world solutions to hack away at, and government gets to look at some clever hackers who might just come up with a brilliant solution to one of their problems, and often do. Win win.
Last year’s winner, Matt Dale from iseroo, was on hand to mentor this year’s teams.
“Since the win we’ve had a great opportunity to work with the International Road Assessment Program, who help the United Nations along with Main Roads WA and others to assess road safety in a repeatable and cost effective way,” Matt told Startup News.
“For me personally it was a pleasure to come back as a mentor to be able to give back to the Ministry of Data organisation who have been able to open so many doors for us, and to hopefully help others to have the same experience that I did.”
The Hon. Dave Kelly MLA, Minister for Water; Fisheries; Forestry; Innovation and ICT; Science, was also there to welcome all to the event on the first evening.
After three days of intense collaboration, the eleven teams then presented their solutions to their chosen challenge in a three-minute pitch.
Those present on pitch night also heard an encouraging speech from the Hon. Alannah MacTiernan MLC, Minister for Regional Development; Agriculture and Food. The Minister leads AgHack’s key government sponsor, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).
The teams competed to win a number of prizes, including $5,000 in cash prizes and free co-working space.
The judging panel included Dr Mark Sweetingham and Darren Gibbon from DPIRD, and Dr Darren Hughes from the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
The AgHack Winners
The overall winner, Dex,tackled the challenge, ‘Identifying and predicting pests to protect WA’. Their prototype application can immediately identify an insect and flag whether it poses a threat to Australia’s biosecurity.
The app works using machine vision and machine learning technologies, and can be equipped to customs officers and farmers, for example, to take protective measures.
Runner up Grainies met on the first night of AgHack. A diverse group of professional entrepreneurs and newbies, Grainies tackled the ‘Whose grain is that ?’ challenge and developed a concept to track grain from farmer to customer.
Second Runner up Carbon Eyes in the Sky tackled the ‘Monitoring the Rangelands’ challenge and saw an opportunity to apply their existing ideas to help the DPIRD. Using satellite imagery Carbon Eyes assesses the potential of the rangelands for carbon sequestration and use.
Best Young Team Ag-Dex were a team of experienced and fresh hackathoners, and tackled the ‘Connected sheep’ challenge. Over the course of the weekend, the team built a prototype bluetooth sensor which farmers could use to monitor and measure ewe’s and their lamb’s health and behaviour.
All participants of Ministry of Data hackathons will have support available to them in the months following the event by a dedicated team to bring their solution to market, and potentially launch a new path to success within the industry.
“The Ministry of Data is working with the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to identify a range of challenges which, if they’re solved, could have immediate impact in WA and also be scalable to markets across the globe,” said MoD CEO, Tim Sondalini.
Feature Image: The Hon. Alannah MacTiernan MLC with the winning AgHack team ‘Dex’.