Hackathon participants in Hash Code 2017.

Hackathon is short for hacker marathon, where teams race to create a functional prototype, which would bring a technological solution to a real-life problem.

Anyone who has an interest in technology can attend a hackathon to learn, build and share their creations in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. You don’t have to be a programmer and you certainly don’t have to be majoring in Computer Science to run in this “invention marathon”.

Want to join?

What problem can you solve with your coding skills? What about that app you always wanted to develop? At the one-day-long womENcourage 2020 hackathon you can use your coding skills to bring your ideas to life and win amazing prizes.

In order to participate in the hackathon make sure you don’t miss the registration. Check out the event program to see the preliminary agenda of our Hackathon on Day 4.

What is the Challenge?

This year, we challenge you to create software solutions for education that can make a difference. In more detail, the prototype you develop during the hackathon, should aim to meet one (or more) of the following goals:

  • Expand access to knowledge for various socio-economic groups including youth, mid-level professionals and senior citizens.
  • Reduce barriers to skills development, technical and vocational education and training.
  • Increase and diversify learning opportunities, so that youth and adults would acquire relevant knowledge, skills and competencies for decent work and life.
  • Assist in developing high-level cognitive and non-cognitive skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, communication skills and conflict resolution, which can be used across a range of occupational fields.
  • Empower teachers and educators, assist in their recruitment, remuneration, and motivation, supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems.

Download the detailed description of the challenge…

How to succeed?

You are encouraged to attend the Hackathon preparation session with IBM on Day 2 – Friday, 25 September, during which you will be introduced to the IBM Watson AI Services. The workshop gives you an opportunity to learn how to build an AI application and ask questions about the variety of services offered by the IBM cloud platform. Although you are not required to use those tools during the hackathon, most of them are available free of charge for creating working solutions. Read more…


During the hackathon, you will have access to mentors, who can provide programming support and help you build your project. Meetings with mentors will be scheduled. You will be informed via email about your team’s mentoring slot.

What are the judging criteria?

At the end of the hackathon, a panel of judges will select the winning project. The panel will consist of the representatives of the supporting companies.

Teams will have an opportunity to pitch their projects to the panel of judges and answer any clarifying questions they may have about the projects. The jury will evaluate the projects according to the judging criteria, which includes the following categories:

  • Technical Innovation: Did the group come up with a good solution to the initial problem or challenge? Did they understand the problem, and did they involve, for example, multiple stakeholders?
  • Creativity: How creative has the group been in addressing the challenge? Did they come up with a radical approach, or did they follow existing patterns and solutions?
  • Execution: Does the solution work? Can the group show the minimum viable product? The project does not have to be perfect or production ready, but can the solution already be used?
  • Impact/Business Model: Even though it is a hackathon, and the participants have a relatively short time to come up with a solution to a problem, the business model is something to raise the level of the final ideas. Criteria like feasibility, economic and societal value and sustainability are therefore also part of the judging form under the term “business model”. Is the idea feasible? Does it have an economic and/or societal value? Is it sustainable?
  • Presentation: Pitching is one of the most important things in life. A good pitch, for example, can get you a new position in a company, letting investors believe in your innovation, and it can convince customers to buy a new product or service (like Steve Jobs did with its Apple products). Does the presentation explain what is unique about the product developed and who the target audience is? Does the presentation come with a demo? If the jury has any questions, are they answered in sufficient detail?

During the presentations, each of the jury members will evaluate the projects independently, assigning a score (0-3) in each category. The number of points a team receives for Technical Innovation will be doubled before calculating the total score. The table below illustrates how the total score will be calculated:

CategoryScore (0-3)WeightSubtotal
Technical Innovation
Impact/Business Model

After that, the jury will host a virtual meeting to jointly select one winning project.

What are the prizes?

Each member of the top winning team (first place) will receive:

  • One year of quarterly mentorship calls with IBM experts to further their creative ideas.
  • An invitation to an IBM virtual event, allowing the team to showcase their solution.

Additionally, each member of the team that finishes in the first, second or third place will receive:

  • A €20 eGift Card from Amazon.

Frequently Asked Questions

In what form will the hackathon take place?

The hackathon will be online. Teams will communicate online, too. Once you register to attend the hackathon, you will receive further instructions via email.

Does the hackathon run overnight?

No. There are many weekend-long or 24-hour-long hackathons, but ours is 9-hour-long. We start at 10:30 (UTC+4) in the morning and continue working on the projects until 19:30 (UTC+4). After that, we will host project presentations, where you can demonstrate your work to the jury. The winners will be announced during the virtual closing ceremony.

I don’t have a team, can I still participate?

Yes! A lot of people go to hackathons without teams. For this reason, we do not expect you to have a team. We will match you with other participants who have similar interests, and introduce you to your teammates beforehand, so you can brainstorm your ideas before the event.

I can’t find an explicit link to apply for the hackathon, how can I register?

There is no need for separate registration for the hackathon. You have to show your willingness during the registration for the womENcourage 2020.

What if I don’t know how to code?

Not a problem! It’s absolutely okay if you don’t have prior technology experience or programming prerequisites before going to a hackathon, it’s more about your interest in making a jumpstart in technology. 

If you want to learn how to code before the hackathon, there’s a fantastic blog post that you should read. Afterwards, you should check out the following: Treehouse, Codecademy and the Major League Hacking blog to get you started.

We also encourage you to attend the Hackathon preparation session with IBM, where you can learn how to create an AI application using IBM Watson AI Services.

But it’s not all just about coding. All projects need a variety of skills: people who can design the software, take care of the business side of things, and have domain expertise in areas specific to the product, such as education, transport, health etc. Bring your skills to the table!

During the event, there will also be mentors, who can provide programming support and help you build your project.

What if I don’t want to present my project at the end?

You might think your project isn’t impressive or it might not be finished, so you don’t want to present it. You should present it anyway! Honestly, a hackathon isn’t about being the best or being competitive. It’s all about having fun, making friends and learning how to become better at things you care about. Presenting your hack gives you a chance to be proud of what you’ve done, and you should be proud.

Any other questions?

Questions, queries or requests for support should be e-mailed to womencourage2020_hackathon[at]acm.org.