Hacking, Sprinting and Providing New Solutions for Agriculture

sudo grow hackathon - inspirational thinking, problem solving and prototype developmentThe “hackathon” concept has been used in the IT industry for some time to bring together technical experts around a key problem facing a business or sector, and engaging in a super-focused effort (or “sprint”) over a day, weekend or longer, to come up with some answers.

And we think it’s time to do some hacking and sprinting to generate new solutions for agriculture and horticulture.

In partnership with Allia Serious Impact, we are jointly hosting an agri-hackathon called >SUDO : GROW to focus some of the brightest brains around some of the biggest opportunities facing our exciting industry.

A hackathon is a term coined by the computing industry to rapidly develop new software technology. The “-thon” bit of the word comes from “marathon” – which is what the participating teams feel they are doing when they are brainstorming, creating ideas and problem solving, more or less without a break, to come up with a rapid, workable solution.


The SUDO GROW hackathon will bring together industry experts and technology enthusiastsHeld in Cambridge over a weekend in April, the >SUDO : GROW hackathon will bring together industry experts and technology enthusiasts.

The team from Cambridge Applied Research are sourcing equipment (sensors, robotic parts, microprocessors etc), open-source APIs (that allow different bits of software to talk to each other) and copious quantities of Post-It notes and flip charts.

They are experienced hackathon organisers who know how to keep participants motivated, focused (and fed and watered).

Working from Saturday morning, through the night and into Sunday, the final solutions will be presented to a panel of judges on Sunday afternoon.

Hack for Ag

Aponic vertical growing standSo how can this work for agriculture? Surely new plant varieties, crop and soil chemistries and even imaging and sensor technologies take years to develop and be approved? Of course, no-one is expected to come up with a new type of crop or novel chemical in a weekend, but its reasonable to expect some relevant engineering, robotic or mechanical solutions to emerge.

The three focus areas will be:

  • vertical farming
  • non-chemical weed control
  • poultry management

With industry champions from Aponic, NIAB, Greenvale and G’s Growers, outlining the technical challenges and opportunities facing the industry in these areas to the participants.

How can I get involved?

You can come and hack if you have some technical expertise, you can come as part of a pre-formed team, you can be an industry champion or a mentor / guide for the teams, or even a judge or sponsor.

The hackathon is all about generation of technical solutions – in contrast to the GROW agri-tech business plan competition we’ve run over the last three years, the ideas that emerge from this process should be technically feasible, but will still be a long way from even being the basis of a business plan.

The hackathon weekend is part of a longer process throughout 2018 where we and the Allia Serious Impact Team will be working with the teams developing the ideas and the industry champions to move forward the plans for commercial adoption of some of the ideas.

To find out more about the >SUDO : GROW hackathon, meet the team from Allia Serious Impact and Cambridge Applied Research

To register click here.