According to Antwerp World Diamond Centre spokeswoman Karen Rentmeesters, the standard hackathon is a “gathering of nerds” who spend three days locked in a room working on computer code, fueled by fast food and energy drinks. There have been hackathons sponsored by everyone from NASA to the British and U.S. governments. Facebook holds them regularly; the now-ubiquitous “like” button was reportedly invented during one.
That brings us to the world’s first diamond hackathon, titled Hack4Diamonds, which will be hosted by the AWDC from May 4–6 in Antwerp, Belgium. But it will be a little different from the standard hackathon, to the extent that such a thing exists. For one, the food will be healthy, and there will be comfortable places to relax. And instead of devising apps, the attendees will put their brains together to solve the problems of the diamond industry.
“It’s not really focused on technology, it’s more about marketing and people who focus on marketing,” says Rentmeesters. “Another term is ‘Innovation Track.’ You bring people together who are part of an industry.”
About 100 people are expected to show up, including 30 “coaches,” and industry innovators like Everledger and Boston Consulting Group, who are working on De Beers’ blockchain project. It also hopes to attract young people in the business, as well as people who like to attend hackathons. Rentemeesters says there are a lot of such folks.
“There are people who just do this for fun,” she says. “They are interested in new technology and developing these things.”
Among the questions the hackathon will tackle:
– How can the natural diamond industry distinguish itself from lab-grown?
– How can blockchain be used to create value in the industry?