Hackathons: The Competitive Nerve Centers Driving Collaborative Innovation

David Tanacea

Vice President, Head of Technology Consulting, EPAM US
Blog

It all started with the promise of a free drink to whomever could write the perfect bubble sort first. Even after a 10-hour day of coding, the enticing offer caused the coders to scramble for a pen and a napkin, and furiously jot down the algorithm. At the end of the day, what influenced them to work such long hours? Coders love to code. Then came the JavaOne conference in 1999, where Sun Microsystems’ John Gage devised a competition to write an application for the Palm V infrared port.

And the trend only continued to gain momentum… What started as a fun exercise in 90s has exploded into what we now know as the hackathon movement. Now, hackathons are being staged for everything from programming languages to specific APIs. 

Enter TopCoder, the crowdsourcing technology company that we founded on the concept of competition as a means to inspire a large community of more than a million technologists. In addition to producing high-quality deliverables, the TopCoder platform has generated a gold mine of data on the inner-workings of incentivized competition.

Now that hackathons are finally hitting the engineering culture mainstream, the data that TopCoder gathered and analyzed shed valuable insight on the intersection between competition and collaboration.

While TopCoder found that the initial motivator for their engineering community was money, they also discovered tremendous collaborative efforts and the desire to improve among coders in the midst of competition. In fact, competitors stated that the opportunity to continuously learn from better engineers pushed them to stick around.

The data were even referenced by institutions, like Harvard Business School, researching this anomaly: https://www.nasa.gov/pdf/521794main_NHHPC-Lakhani-Harvard.pdf.

Competition Collaboration
  1. Innovation problem requires diversity of approaches
  2. Contributors tend to be substitutes
  3. Arms-length, rules based contacts
  4. External innovators are competitive
  5. Driven by extrinsic motivations and profits
  1. Innovation problem requires cumulative knowledge building
  2. Contributors range from mix&match to co-production
  3. Informal, norms-based governance
  4. External innovators are cooperative
  5. Driven by intrinsic and extrinsic motivations

 

As hackathons continue growing in popularity, it’s important to consider trends that will further impact their culture. One that is bound to make waves is the rise of cloud native application development. Developers will be able to build 12 factor applications, allowing these applications to run on any cloud based infrastructure (public or private).

This provides a continuous integration environment where the application can constantly evolve to improve. We must cultivate this trend and continue using hackathons as vessels of innovation that add immediate business value. 

At EPAM, engineering is in our DNA and our collaborative nature runs deep. We host hackathons for a myriad of reasons. Whether it’s to inspire kids to learn code or to bring innovative solutions to our customers, the results are always fun and often impressive. 

How far we have come from the napkin…

Hello. How Can We Help You?


Our Offices

  • Canada

    • Ottawa

      343 Preston Street,
      ON K1S 1N4, Ottawa
      Canada

      Map
    • Toronto

      5 Park Home Avenue,
      Suite 400,
      ON M2N 6L4, North York,
      Toronto
      Canada

      Map
      P: +1-416-591-4004
      F: +1-416-595-1551
    Learn more
  • Mexico

    • Guadalajara

      Periférico Sur #8110,
      Col. El Mante
      45609 Tlaquepaque, Jalisco
      Mexico

      Map
      P: +52-33-462-400-98
    Learn more
  • United States

    • Newtown, PA

      41 University Drive,
      Suite 202,
      Newtown, PA 18940
      USA

      Map
      P: +1-267-759-9000
      F: +1-267-759-8989
    • Bellevue, WA

      110 110th Ave. NE,
      Suite 310
      Bellevue, WA 98004
      USA

      Map
    • Cambridge, MA

      One Mifflin Place,
      Cambridge, MA 02138
      USA

      Map
      P: +1-267-759-9000
      F: +1-267-759-8989
    • Conshohocken, PA

      101 East 8th Ave,
      Suite 201,
      Conshohocken, PA 19428
      USA

      Map
      P: +1-484-382-1300
    • Mountain View, CA

      465 Fairchild Dr,
      Building B,
      Suite 221,
      Mountain View, CA 94043
      USA

      Map
    • New York, NY

      24 West 25th Street,
      5th Floor,
      New York, NY 10010
      USA

      Map
      P: +1-267-759-9000
      F: +1-267-759-8989
    • San Francisco, CA

      222 Kearny Street,
      Suite 308,
      San Francisco, CA 94108
      USA

      Map
    • Santa Monica, CA

      2950 31st Street,
      Suite 130,
      Santa Monica, CA 90405
      USA

      Map
    • Washington D.C.

      7901 Jones Branch Drive,
      Suite 400,
      McLean, VA 22102
      USA

      Map
    Learn more
  • Austria

    • Vienna

      Nottendorfer Gasse 11,
      1030 Wien
      Austria 

      Map
    Learn more
  • Bulgaria

    • Sofia

      69 Bulgaria Blvd.,
      Infinity Tower,
      1404 Sofia
      Bulgaria

      Map
      P: +359-700-20-273
    Learn more
  • Czech Republic

    • Prague

      City Tower building,
      Hvezdova 2b,
      Prague 4
      Czech Republic

       

      Map
      P: +420 22 888 28 23
    Learn more
  • Germany

    • Frankfurt am Main

      Franklinstrasse 56, 
      60486 Frankfurt am Main,
      Germany

      Map
      P: +49-69-31019090
    Learn more
  • Hungary

    • Budapest

      Corvin Offices I.
      Futó street 47-53,
      Budapest, H-1082
      Hungary

      Map
      P: +36-1-327-7400
    • Debrecen

      Bethlen Street 3-9,
      Debrecen, 4026
      Hungary

      Map
      P: +36-52-999-485 / 45050
    • Szeged

      Felső Tisza-Part 25,
      Szeged, 6723
      Hungary

      Map
      P: +36-62-808-013
      F: +36-62-550-655
    Learn more
  • Ireland

    • Dublin

      Alexandra House,
      The Sweepstakes,
      Ballsbridge, Dublin 4,
      D04 C7H2
      Ireland

      Map
      P: +353-(0)-1-631-9280
    Learn more
  • Netherlands

    • Delft

      Delftechpark 37j
      2628 XJ Delft
      Netherlands

      Map
      P: +31 20 241 6134
    • Schiphol

      The Base B
      Evert van de Beekstraat 104
      1118CN Schiphol
      Netherlands

      Map
      P: +31 20 241 6134
    Learn more
  • Poland

    • Gdańsk

      Grunwaldzka 472D,
      Olivia Six,
      80-309 Gdańsk
      Poland

      Map
    • Katowice

      Chorzowska Str. 148
      40-101 Katowice
      Poland

      Map
      P: +48-12-222-02-02
    • Krakow

      Opolska Str. 114
      31-323 Kraków
      Poland

      Map
      P: +48-12-222-02-02
    • Warsaw

      Al. Jana Pawła II 23,
      Atrium International,
      00-854 Warszawa
      Poland

      Map
    • Wroclaw

      Ul. Piotra Skargi 1,
      Budynek A,
      50-082 Wrocław
      Poland

      Map
    Learn more
  • Sweden

    • Göteborg

      Lilla Nygatan 2,
      411-09 Göteborg
      Sweden

      Map
      P: +46-31-146-550
    • Stockholm

      Kungsbron 1, Entrance E,
      111 22, Stockholm
      Sweden

      Map
      P: +46-85-250-06-98
    Learn more
  • Switzerland

    • Glattpark

      Boulevard Lilienthal 2,
      8152 Glattpark (Opfikon)
      Switzerland

      Map
      P: +41-43-500-21-49
    Learn more
  • United Kingdom

    • London

      114 Middlesex Street,
      London, E1 7HY
      United Kingdom

      Map
      P: +44-203-514-0027
    • Manchester

      Tower 12,
      18-22 Bridge Street,
      Manchester, M3 3BZ
      United Kingdom

      Map
      P: +44-203-514-0027
    Learn more
  • Australia

    • Sydney

      Suite 2.14
      Level 2
      Zhen Building
      33 Lexington Drive
      Bella Vista NSW 2153

      Map
      P: +61-2-8310-8272
    Learn more
  • China

    • Guangzhou

      Unit B01, 23/F
      Yuexiuxinduhui Building
      No. 236, 6th Zhongshan Road
      Yuexiu District
      510180 Guangzhou
      China

      Map
    • 广州

      广州市 越秀区 中山六路236号 越秀新都会大厦 中座 23楼 B01室 510180

      地图
    • Shanghai

      Unit 704, Block C
      No. 668 East Beijing Road
      Huangpu District
      200001 Shanghai
      China 

      Map
    • 上海

      上海市 黄浦区 北京东路 668号 科技京城 C区 704室 200001

      地图
    • Shenzhen

      Vision Shenzhen Business Park
      No. 9 Gaoxin 9th South Road
      Building 5, Floor 3
      Shenzhen Hi-Tech Industrial Park
      Nanshan District
      518057 Shenzhen
      China

      Map
      P: +86-755-36899008
    • 深圳

      中国广东省深圳市
      南山区高新南九道
      威新软件园5号楼3楼
      邮编518057

      地图
      P: +86-755-36899008
    • Suzhou

      18F, Phase 3
      Science Plaza
      1355 Jinjihu Avenue
      Suzhou Industrial Park
      215021 Suzhou
      China

      Map
    • 苏州

      苏州工业园区 金鸡湖大道 1355号 国际科技园 3期18楼 215021

      地图
    Learn more
  • Hong Kong

    • Hong Kong

      198 Wellington Street,
      17F, Central
      Hong Kong

      Map
      P: +852-5808-6018
    Learn more
  • India

    • Hyderabad

      North wing,
      JVP Building, Plot No. 5,
      Software Units Layout
      Madhapur,
      Hyderabad - 500081
      India

      Map
      P: +91-40-39-111-700
    • Pune

      SmartWork Business Center Pvt Ltd,
      Suite 8, Level 1,
      West Wing, Nyati Unitree,
      Samrat Ashok Road,
      Yerwada, Pune - 411006,
      Maharashtra
      India

      Map
      P: +91-20-4913-6025
    Learn more
  • Singapore

    • Singapore

      6 Raffles Quay
      #16-01,
      Singapore 048580

      Map
      P: +65-6812-7843
      F: +65-6812-7889
    Learn more
  • United Arab Emirates

    • Dubai

      EPAM Systems FZ-LLC
      Dubai Branch,
      Building 16, Office 241,
      Dubai Internet City,
      PO Box 501929, Dubai
      United Arab Emirates

      Map
      P: +971-4-568-3569
    Learn more
  • Armenia

    • Yerevan

      15 Khorenatsi Street,
      Elite Plaza Business Center,
      0010 Yerevan
      Armenia

      Map
      P: +374-10-60-00-65
    Learn more
  • Belarus

    • Brest

      6A Masherov Avenue,
      224030 Brest
      Belarus

      Map
      P: +375-162-52-5268
      F: +375-162-50-9888
    • Gomel

      80 Rechitsky Avenue,
      246012 Gomel
      Belarus

      Map
      P: +375-17-389-0100, ext. 54079
      F: +375-232-70-50-31
    • Grodno

      87B Gorkogo Street,
      230005 Grodno
      Belarus

      Map
      P: +375-17-389-0100, ext. 69011
    • Minsk

      1/1 Academician Kuprevich Street,
      Suite 110,
      220141 Minsk
      Belarus

      Map
      P: +375-17-389-0100
      F: +375-17-268-6699
    • Mogilev

      19 Cosmonaut Street,
      Suite 510,
      212009 Mogilev
      Belarus

      Map
      P: +375-17-389-0100, ext. 1001
    • Vitebsk

      11-a Stroitelei Avenue,
      Suite 311,
      210032 Vitebsk
      Belarus

      Map
      P: +375-17-389-0100, ext. 54433
    Learn more
  • Kazakhstan

    • Astana

      8 Auezova Street,
      Office B,
      010000 Astana
      Kazakhstan

      Map
      P: +7-7172-475-970
      F: +7-7172-688-774
    • Karaganda

      58/3 Ermekova Street,
      100009 Karaganda
      Kazakhstan

      Map
      P: +7-7212-93-01-01 +7-7212-93-01-00
    Learn more
  • Russia

    • Moscow

      9th Radialnaya Street,
      Building 2,
      115404 Moscow
      Russia

      Map
      P: +7-495-730-6362
      F: +7-495-730-6361
    • Izhevsk

      246 V. Sivkova Street,
      426008 Izhevsk
      Russia

      Map
      P: +7-3412-271882 +7-3412-271337
    • Ryazan

      16 Gogolya Street,
      390035 Ryazan
      Russia

      Map
      P: +7-4912-93-57-33
    • Saint Petersburg

      22/2 Zastavskaya Street,
      MegaPark,
      196084 Saint Petersburg
      Russia

      Map
      P: +7-812-611-1094
      F: +7-812-611-1094
    • Samara

      21 Michurina Street,
      443110 Samara
      Russia

      Map
      P: +7-846-200-0970
    • Saratov

      37 Tankistov Street,
      410019 Saratov
      Russia

      Map
      P: +7-8452-692-981
    • Sergiev Posad

      7 Akademika Silina Street,
      141313 Sergiev Posad
      Russia

      Map
      P: +7-496-547-11-39
      F: +7-496-547-11-39
    • Togliatti

      31E Yubileynaya Street,
      445037 Togliatti
      Russia

      Map
      P: +7-495-730-6360, ext. 47650
    • Tver

      8 Kolodkina Street,
      170002 Tver
      Russia

      Map
      P: +7-4822-630-070 +7-4822-630-071 +7-4822-630-072
      F: +7-4822-630-073
    Learn more
  • Ukraine

    • Dnipro

      17A Volodymyra Monomaha Street,
      49000 Dnipro
      Ukraine

      Map
      P: +380-56-790-5651
    • Kharkiv

      33G 23 Serpnya Street,
      61072 Kharkiv
      Ukraine

      Map
      P: +380-57-728-06-22
    • Kyiv: Registered office

      28 Fizkultury Street,
      03150 Kyiv
      Ukraine

      Map
      P: +380-44-390-5457
      F: +380-44-390-0861
    • Kyiv: Visitors office

      14B Kudryashova Street
      03035 Kyiv, Ukraine

      Map
      P: +380-44-390-5457
      F: +380-44-390-0861
    • Lviv

      45 O.Stepanivny Street,
      79018 Lviv
      Ukraine

      Map
      P: +380-32-242-4642
      F: +380-44-390-5458
    • Vinnytsia

      51 Ovodova Street,
      21000 Vinnytsia
      Ukraine

      Map
      P: +380-432-551-294 +380-432-551-275
      F: +380-432-551-293
    Learn more