U.S.: Autogrow announces hackathon to grow crops on Mars

September 11 , 2017

 New Zealand-headquartered Autogrow is bringing the world of indoor agriculture together with space exploration through the creation of a two-day indoor ag hackathon. 

A hackathon is a design sprint-like event in which attendees collaborate intensively on software or technology projects. 

Alongside event partner Silicon Valley Forum, the November hackathon will see teams seek to create crop production solutions for inhospitable Mars conditions.

“We believe if you can find a way to sustainably grow crops on Mars, you will be able to grow in some of the harshest environments on earth because, if you can grow it there, you can grow it anywhere,” Autogrow CEO Darryn Keiller said in a release.

“With climate change events having a significant impact on food production around the world, we need to look at alternative solutions to feed the projected 9 billion people by 2050.

“We want to set the bar high and hope to get creative, unique and resourceful solutions that can be utilised for crop production regardless of location.”

Silicon Valley Forum is familiar with hackathons but this is the first time they have had a focus on the red planet.

“This is an innovative event with a very real and challenging goal and we are pleased to be hosting it with Autogrow in one of the world’s most technological hubs in San Francisco, USA,” Silicon Valley Forum executive director Denyse Cardozo said.

“We are looking for a range of people from programmers to agronomists, scientists, data technologists, researchers and anyone else who has an interest in taking on a challenge to grow crops on Mars to register a team.”

Teams will be able to create software, data or design solutions for growing crops on Mars.

“We will be looking at originality, scalability, sustainability with regards to resource efficiency and whether it can be reproduced here on Earth,” Keiller said.

“There will be a great panel of judges and mentors and we are lucky to have the partnership of Silicon Valley Forum who see the benefit in a hackathon geared towards indoor agriculture.”

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