Hackathon - an event in which computer programmers and software developers collaborate intensively on software projects - kicked off for the first time in South Korea, starting from Friday to last for three days in Pangyo Techno Valley, high-tech industrial complex in Gyeonggi-do.
The competition, which has drawn around 1,000 college students, software developers and IT specialists, has provided a venue where the participants can share their ideas on a certain topic and produce innovative outcomes with the ideas in a set time.
The event is co-hosted by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning(MSIP)and National IT Industry Promotion Agency, and organized by four government agencies for software regional cluster - Gyeonggi Institute of Science & Technology Promotion(GSTEP), Busan IT Industry Promotion Agency, Incheon Information Service and Daegu Digital Industry Promotion Agency.
“Hackathon will be a good opportunity to provide a unique experience for Korean software developers,” said Kwak Jae-won, president of GSTEP, in an opening speech of the event on Friday.
“We are aiming to help developers to create software dealing with a number of social issues such as safety, firefighting, crime, disaster and welfare, which can contribute to the society,” he added.
Following the competition in Gyeonggi-do, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning plans to continue to hold the event in Pusan this September, Incheon and Daegu next year to foster the software industry in provinces.
Throughout the three days event, the participants should develop prototype products under the two themes – creating ideas and dealing with social issues. The winners will be provided with cash prize and opportunity to visit overseas.
Under the slogan of “Come, all the software geeks,” GSTEP has garnered participants since April, and attracted more than 450 participants. The event also organizes a “Demo Day” an investment briefing for promising startups as a side event, and a lecture inviting Lee Hyung-woo, chief of MIDAS IT, local engineering solution provider, and Kim Young-yoo, executive of Google Korea.
Hackathon, a combination of hacking and marathon, is widely seen in global tech firms such as Cognizant, Facebook, Google, SendGrid, Microsoft and Pegasystems. They hold internal hackathons to promote new product innovation by the engineering staff. For example, Facebook's Like button was conceived as part of a hackathon. For general people, hacking is known for illegally attacking computers, but they are commonly used as advanced programming for computer programmers.
Internet giant Google’s Korean unit Google Korea already held its first Google Developer Hackathon for local software developers in 2011. 50 developers participated in the competition for three straight days. The winner went to software Gori, which speaks and understands human voice like Apple 4S’ Siri.
During this Hackathon competition, GSTEP signed a memorandum of understanding with other three regional agencies including Busan IT Industry Promotion Agency, Incheon Information Service and Daegu Digital Industry Promotion Agency to foster regional software industries on Friday.
This is not the first time for GSTEP to hold such events to support the region’s startups and software developers. The state-run agency set up in 2010 has been ramping up to boost research and development of science and industry in Gyeonggi province, the most populous province in South Korea.
In April, it also held “K-Global Device Make-A-Thon” - a combination of making and marathon – for two days in Pangyo with an aim of helping developers produce prototypes for practical devices with create ideas in a set time.
Throughout the event, 20 people ranging from students to elderly participated to produce smart devices using open source hardware under diverse themes including happiness, creativity, communications, safety and welfare.