Weekend Hackathon addresses the plastic consumption and waste in our oceans

Athena 2019 participant
*photograph courtesy of Ray Crundwell 

Tech Industry Gold accredited provider Queen Mary University of London, hosted ‘Athena 2019’ on 13-14 April, a tech event championing the skills of women in tech. The event provided a platform for women in technology to inspire others to join the industry, to showcase talent, and highlight the opportunities available within the sector.

With support from the Institute of Coding and in partnership with ShowCode,  Athena 2019 included an all-female Hackathon, a careers fair, coding workshops run by Makers, Cisco and Capgemini, and a day of inspiring talks from a range of companies including Microsoft, JP Morgan, Lloyds and CodeFirst:Girls 

The Athena Hack was the main event of the weekend bringing together a group of talented technologists to help support a global issue. The charity, Plastic Oceans UK partnered the hackathon where participants had an opportunity to come up with some innovative concepts to help solve the plastic crisis. 

Twenty four teams from across the UK participated in the Hackathon working towards impressing the panel of employer judges with their digital solutions for reducing plastic consumption and plastic waste in our oceans. Each team was competing to win a prize of £5,000 and an opportunity to seek financial investment from SKY Ocean Ventures.  

The winning idea was ‘BoraBags’, a rent-a-bag system where shoppers can pay £1 to rent a high quality shopping bag at their local supermarket, receive a £1 back when they return the bag on their next trip and receive 10 reward points, which they can then redeem for vouchers and other offers from participating retailers for each bag returned.  

“We were delighted to welcome women from across the UK to Queen Mary University and work with ShowCode to host this wonderful event that showcased the skills of women in Digital Technology, too often underrated in this country,’  said Isobel Bates, Institute of Coding Project Manager, at Queen Mary University of London.

Women need to continue to have the opportunity to showcase their tech expertise and the opportunities they can bring. As the industry grows and requires trained technologists in the UK, it is a critical time to encourage more women, and men, into the sector. The sector needs people with the right skills base to meet its growing demands. 

Many initiatives are making headway to celebrate and support women in tech. This includes the Tech Industry Gold accredited degrees offered by Queen Mary University University of London – 31% of its graduates are female, more than double the number for computer science overall. 

To find out more about the Athena weekend

To find out more about Tech Industry Gold degrees

Companies that took part were:  

  • Lloyds 
  • IBM 
  • Makers 
  • Accenture 

 Full University teams that took part in the Hackathon: 

  • Edinburgh University  
  • University of Kent 
  • Sheffield University 
  • Aston University  
  • University of Sunderland 
  • Swansea University 
  • Oxford University 

Other companies and universities that took part as individuals were: 

  • Kurt Geiger 
  • Charles Tywritt 
  • ClearScore 
  • Founders & Coders 
  • hiyacar 
  • Imperial College London 
  • Keele University 
  • LocalGiving 
  • NHS 
  • Northumbria University  
  • Nottingham Trent University 
  • Open University 
  • Queen Mary University of London 
  • Peninsula Group Services 
  • Tamoco 
  • Ticketmaster 
  • UBS 
  • UCL 
  • Birmingham University 
  • East Anglia University 
  • University of Greenwich  
  • Manchester University 
  • University of Nottingham 

Winning teams were: 

  • Caxyy: 1st  
  • Sirens: 2nd  
  • Starfish: 3rd 
  • Oceans 5 : best university group won by Edinburgh University
  • Makers Love not Plastic won best company 
  • Wearside Warriors won the Cisco prize – University of Sunderland 
  • Recircle won the Capgemini prize  
  • Plastomics won the Sparta prize – QMUL