Monika Lionaite is the founder and CEO of Openhack and she is the one who initiated Hack4Future Australia. Monika also participated in FPX:s hack Hack for Gälve earlier in March 2020, where she was doing research on hackathons. Today she is studying a master’s degree in Strategic Information Systems Management at Australian National University when she isn´t arranging hackathons herself.
What made you decide on these three challenges for the Australian hack?
– All of these are very important subjects, and we want to help global and local communities to come together and come up with brilliant solutions that we can use later on.
What is in it for the participants of a hackathon?
– It is free of charge to participate. As a participant of a hackathon you get to know interesting people, understand global solutions, and learn new technology that you can apply in daily life, while solving global and local challenges.
You did this as an online hackathon. How did that work out?
– It was intended to be a physical hackathon, but because of COVID19 we had to transform it to an online event. First of all, the constant efforts to provide the best online hacking environment was the main focus of the planning. With becoming online hackathon, it became possible for us to scale up and make it a truly international, global hackathon with participants and mentors from 40+ different countries, something that would have been hard to achieve with a physical event.
How did it work out with participants being in different time zones?
– It did affect the communication times and participation of teams in the overall hackathon. This is one of the challenges when you have many individual hackers signed up as a team together to connect with each other and work on solutions at the same time. However, it is also a strength since participants based in different time zones can develop further the ideas while one of the members takes a rest and so take shifts for power-naps during the 48 hours. In fact, our best tech solution was presented by a team made out of individual hackers based in Australia, Brazil and Sweden – and yet, they developed the most tech advanced solution from all that were submitted, by building a working smart contract using blockchain tech, something that also surprised our experienced jury!
Monika says she was surprised by the level of engagement that they received from the most active hackers and mentors.
– It was amazing! The ‘charm’ of online hackathon is the fact that you can connect from anywhere in the world – and this is truly amazing to facilitate and witness the impact it creates, aimed towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. Participants were encouraged to step-out of their comfort zone and think about solutions from another perspective – what could be applied worldwide.
What will be your next step?
– We are in the process of establishing long-term strategic partnerships with research institutions and innovation hubs that are interested to scale this global movement of Hack4Future hackathons for the years ahead. The planning for our next online hackathon is ongoing, and you can sign up already here.