News & Analysis

CSIRO to hold Australia’s first solar hackathon

- March 11, 2016 2 MIN READ

CSIRO will be hosting Australia’s first Solar Hackathon next month, looking to continue the conversation around solar and the best ways to create a lower emissions future.

The hackathon will be held on April 8-9 with $10,000 worth of cash prizes to be awarded to the hackers and ideas that provide energy solutions to foster future businesses. The first day will start with a networking event, with the hackathon itself taking place on the following day, including the presentation of ideas and awards.

CSIRO said the hackathon is part of its efforts to look at better, and more fun ways, to engage, collaborate, and innovate.

“Our Solar Hackathon brings together people with a diverse range of skills sets so it really will be an explosion of ideas and innovation. Whether you are a software developer, coder, marketer, researcher, or business developer, you all have something to contribute and this is what makes the hackathons so dynamic,”  said Dr Glenn Platt, CSIRO Research Director, Energy.

CSIRO has announced the first challenges for the hackers with more expected to come within the following weeks. The initial challenges include a creative advertising campaign that addresses the benefits of going solar,  education solutions to transform the way people use energy and a way to work with consumer engagement strategies to find low cost energy solutions.

The organisation expects solutions to involve software and mechanical applications from 3D modelling to consumer engagement strategies around energy use and mobile application.

We don’t want participants to feel pigeonholed so teams can even present their own challenge around solar technology,” explained Platt.

Hackers will be given access to a network of business leaders and CSIRO staff for guidance and mentorship, with Platt saying the organisation hopes that a number of ideas will progress beyond the hackathon.

CSIRO has partnered with Powerhouse, a solar incubator based in Silicon Valley, and two successful solar startups Powerhive and UtilityAPI, who emerged from previous international solar hackathons, to run the event. 

Eighteen04, a collaboration hub for cleantech startups based in Newcastle will be sponsoring the Solar Hackathon and will provide hackers with opportunities to take their ideas created in the hackathon into the local community.

One of the more recent focuses for CSIRO has been on cleantech, with the aim of challenging the status quo and fostering innovation around viable and renewable resources.

“This is applicable to all of us – whether industry or private households – as we are creating ways to minimise energy use which in turn reduces costs. Integrating renewables into the mix, such as solar, is critical – that’s why we are pioneering this conversation,” said Platt.

“Our event strengthens the focus on innovation but we aren’t just about getting together for an ideas fest – we want to take this further by being the catalyst to transform these ideas into tangible business solutions and to make a real difference that could benefit the entire nation. These ideas could have real and meaningful impacts for the everyday Australian, and the world.”

The launch of the event comes a month after the CSIRO announced it would be cutting jobs from its climate science division, with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting earlier this week that the organisation is considering outsourcing its climate modelling work to Britain.

Image: Hack the Sun. Source: Supplied