Four teams have been named winners of the #shockproof defence forces hackathon that bought together more than 500 innovators from across Australia and New Zealand to explore ways of hardening defense logistics.

Conducted and executed by ACS between 15 and 17 May, the virtual event saw 70 mentors guiding 40 pitch presentations.

The winning entries were Gaia Pod, FVEX, Team White Hat and Help From Heroes, all of which received prizes from IBM and ANSTO’s Nandin Innovation Centre.

Gaia Pod picked up $7,000 from IBM for its supply chain and logistics communications device that could be air-dropped at short notice to deliver a service for disaster response or military applications.

Team member Amy McIntosh said, “before this event, I had never heard of a hackathon or what the actual purpose is of competing. Now I know it’s much more than just creating a novel idea out of the blue to solve an ongoing problem. It’s 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 on 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.”

Help From Heroes’ Vicky-Rae Renier-Clark added, “this was my very first online hackathon and it was an absolute privilege and honor 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.”

The people, culture and wellness app won a three-month membership of ANSTO's Nandin Innovation Centre.

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 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.

“We had over 500 people involved, and I want to highlight the 70 amazing mentors and 10 incredible lead mentors onboarded over 24 hours.

“Of the handful of people I had the pleasure of directly meeting, I personally learnt so much more from this process than in reverse and I would like to mention special thanks to my ACS team Kellie Kennedy, Janson Lim and Jack Shi who voluntarily worked through the weekend to ensure the success of the participants.”

An Australian Defence Department spokesperson told Information Age, “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.”