Hackagong to boost tech start-ups in city

Brennan Hatton plans to lock 150 people inside the University of Wollongong to ignite a technology startup culture in the region.

The second annual Hackagong event will be held on July 20-21 at the UOW Unicentre, as a networking and ideas-sharing opportunity for the region's fledgling technology startup community.

Hackagong is Wollongong's take on a "hackathon", where teams of engineers, entrepreneurs and developers build creative solutions or ideas in an intense weekend of designing, testing and prototyping.

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"It's a design innovation competition," said Mr Hatton, the event organiser.

"The aim is to foster a technology startup ecosystem in Wollongong. It brings different people together for something they wouldn't normally do, a creative project or something they haven't had time to work on."

Hackathons are used by major companies around the world; the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter regularly host events to spark new, left-field ideas and innovations. Facebook's chat, video and "like button" functions came from hackathons.

Nathan Waters founded Hackagong last year to boost idea sharing in the region.

"It was to build a startup culture in Wollongong, to get people networking and building cool things," he said.

"There's definitely potential for Wollongong to become a thriving startup area."

Last year's inaugural event hosted 90 people and 27 teams across a whole weekend. A crowd-funding website for personal gifts, called "Giftling", won the "most viable business potential" category and has since become a profitable business.

"Wollongong is a dying manufacturing sector, and we're looking to change the culture. There's hundreds of IT graduates from UOW each year, but there's no jobs here," Mr Waters said.

Registrations for Hackagong are open until July 20, with prizes including two 3D printers. More than 100 people have already registered, with organisers expecting more than 150 to attend.

See hackagong.com for more information.

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