Four teams have been named winners of the Australia/New Zealand #Shockproof Defence Forces Hackathon.

Conducted and executed by the ACS over the weekend of 15-17 May, the virtual event bought together 500 innovators from both sides of the Tasman Sea. 

Guided by 70 mentors with 40 pitch presentations, the hackathon aimed to find ways to harden Australian and New Zealand defence logistics.

The prize winners were:

  • 1st Prize: IBM sponsored $7000 awarded to Gaia Pod, a supply chain and logistics optimisation focused solution using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning;
  • 2nd Prize: IBM sponsored $2000 awarded to FVEX, an enabling policies and supply chain and logistics optimisation focused solution;
  • 3rd Prize: IBM sponsored $1000 awarded to Team White Hat for its cyber resilience focused solution; and
  • 4th Prize: ANSTO’s Nandin Innovation Centre 3+ months membership awarded to Help from Heroes – a People, Culture and Wellness focused solution.

Gaia Pod team member Amy McIntosh said, “Before this event, I had never heard of a hackathon or what the actual purpose was of competing. Now I know it is much more than just creating a novel idea out of the blue to solve an ongoing problem. It is being able to come together with a range of diverse people to innovate and create a concept that will ultimately help and support the future of the ANZDF. 

“As our team’s focus was in disaster relief, we were able to encompass and apply our thinking to both Australia and New Zealand. It was a riveting and rewarding experience, especially considering the positive intensity of teamwork. 

“I believe this hackathon provided a window of opportunity for specialists in business and the sciences to demonstrate our potential and how by reaching out across the Trans-Tasman, collaboration and support in our special part of the world is possible,” she said.

Vicky-Rae Renier-Clark from the Help From Heroes team said she was impressed by the experience. “This was my very first online hackathon and it was an absolute privilege and honour to have our ideas both heard and recognised by Australian and New Zealand Defence. 

“Our small but mighty team consisted of two mums, one from each side of the ditch who, despite all the challenges with parenting and juggling tech issues, persisted and most of all delivered.”

Steve Nouri, ACS Head of Data Science, commended the quality of the entries, saying: “As a team, we’ve mentored and helped organise a few hackathons in the past, but this one in particular was unique for a number of reasons: the breadth of capability and expertise in our mentors, lead mentors and participants, and how directly applicable were some of the solutions I’ve seen come from the teams. I’ve seen a lot of solutions that will have an impact in future or will become an inspiration for others.”

An Australian Defence Department spokesperson commented: “The hackathon leveraged the ingenuity of technological specialists across the two nations to explore options to enhance sovereign capability.

“The 48-hour event helped to identify innovative solutions to supply chain issues, which underpin Defence’s ability to mobilise quickly when responding to a crisis or threat.”