A first-ever hackathon for the MICE industry in February concluded with new solution prototypes set to light up Singapore’s local business events landscape. By Kristie Thong
On February 23 this year, a packed room in Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre was abuzz with excitement, as a four-day event comprising 48 hours of building technological prototypes was about to come to a close. 26 teams comprising developers, creatives, and technological start-ups were each given three minutes to present their ideas to a panel of judges. Winners emerging from the competition would not only take home a mix of cash prizes and Samsung tablets, but also contribute to the growth of the MICE industry in Singapore.
It was the first hackathon event for the MICE industry. Organised by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in collaboration with UP Singapore, MICE coLAB was the first MICE-centric tech brainstorm event of its kind in Singapore. It was a platform to “raise awareness and drive technological ideation and adoption for the MICE industry”, stated John Conceicao, executive director of capability & innovation and visitor information & feedback of STB. Local MICE association SACEOS played a part by providing challenges for participants, and also saw president Janet Tan-Collis as a speaker, and honorary secretary Ong Wee Min on the panel of judges. Event venue Suntec came on board by providing breakout rooms for mentor sessions and for participants to discuss and develop their prototypes.
Changing the face of MICE
STB’s intention was to encourage the development and adoption of useful technology solutions for Singapore’s MICE industry, a much-needed enhancement that many in Singapore, while rich in experience, were reluctant to take on. On the flipside, STB faced the challenge where few people were conversant with the challenges facing MICE companies.
“Hence the key challenge was to identify members of the community interested in or already working in the MICE industry or travel in general,” Conceicao said.
MICE coLAB kicked off with a workshop on February 18 to provide developers a background of the MICE industry through speaker sessions to get them acquainted. February 21 marked the launch of the actual hackathon, comprising teams separated into two tracks – the actual hackathon challenge for teams formed over the weekend, as well as another category for start-ups, which developed enhancements to their existing solutions over the weekend.
Teams were assessed based on their innovative ideas and relevance of their prototypes to the MICE industry. Additionally, SACEOS, DEXTRA, and SergeSearch awarded special awards to teams that took on specific challenges posed.
With 26 prototype solutions developed and nine winning teams, the event saw the highest number of participating groups at a tech brainstorm event. Conceicao believed it was a sign “not only of the industry’s willingness to collaborate and share but also the community’s passion in developing innovative solutions to improve the overall visitor experience”.
To further encourage technology adoption, Conceicao said that the board will continue to engage MICE industry stakeholders in conversations on developing the right solutions that can best address their needs.
“Funds, such as STB’s Tourism Technology Fund, are also available where companies are eligible for up to 50 percent of qualifying costs to adopt the solutions for their business,” he added.
One of the judges, Oscar Cerezales, chief operating officer for Asia Pacific & Americas of MCI, called the MICE coLAB event a mix of three variables – collaborative approach, innovation, and thinking out of the box.
“To me, this is the recipe for success…to be ahead of the ‘MICE game’.”