Ascend and #ExpeditionHacks invites you to work with a selected small business or NGO partner for ONE WEEK to produce a functioning technical solution for your partner. Team projects should be designed to meet a specific need formulated by the partner small business or NGO and bring immediate and tangible benefit to the partner. A winning project will be one that successfully applies innovation to the partner’s day-to-day business through the utilization of cyber concepts, data science/visualization, AI/machine learning, or other advanced technologies.

Teams may select their own partner* or they will be paired at event kick off.

REGISTER NOW at Eventbrite

**UPDATE (3/3/2021): This hackathon has SOLD OUT. Visit Eventbrite to get on the waitlist!**



Lucia Liu

Lucia Liu

Founder & CEO, Rock The Boat Podcast
Senior Manager, American Express Digital Labs



Andres Angelani

CEO, Cognizant Softvision


With quarantining and social distancing measures in place for over almost a year now, communities everywhere have seen small businesses shutter their doors for good. Despite temporary financial support from public and private sources, the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many small businesses simply cannot survive without creating new revenue streams. Small businesses that lack technical savvy are particularly disadvantaged. Ascend challenges you to use your tech skills and business savvy to help small businesses survive, recover, and thrive again!

During this event, your team will engage intensively with your selected partner business or NGO. Your partner will present a specific problem or challenge it is currently facing and your team will have one week to create a functioning technology solution to their problem. The goal of this hackathon is for your partner to walk away with an innovative, actionable, potentially scalable technology solution in hand. While the solution may require refinement after the competition, it should be something that is relatively close to implementation.



This virtual hackathon will take place on March 13 through 20, 2021. All time are in EST. 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Virtual Event Kick Off. Link will be provided to participants who registered through Eventbrite.

  • 1:00 PM | EVENT START
  • 1:15 PM | Keynote Speaker: Andres Angelani, Cognizant Softvision
  • 1:40 PM | Business Partner Introductions & Pairing
  • 2:20 PM | Breakout Rooms for Teams and Partners
  • 2:40 AM | Final Reminders, Submission Details, General Q&A
  • 3:00 PM | END OF EVENT


March 13- 20, 2021

  • Teams work on projects with partners independently.


Saturday March 20, 2021

Link will be provided to participants who registered through Eventbrite.

  • 9 AM | Project Submission Cut Off
  • 1:00 PM | Live Event Starts
  • 1:05 PM | Team Demos
  • 2:20 PM | Speaker: Anna Mok (Ascend) & Crowdsource Vote
  • 2:45 PM | Winners Announced, Closing Remarks
  • 3:00 PM | End of Event



Grand Prize- The Grand Prize winner will be selected by the judging panel on March 20 and will win tickets to Ascend’s National Convention in August 2021 for each team member (valued at $1000 each) plus one selection from the prize pool.

Second Place- The Second Place winner will be selected by the judging panel on March 20 and will win Ascend memberships for each team member (valued at $125 each) plus one selection from the prize pool.

Crowdsource Prize- The Crowdsource Prize winner will be decided by attendee poll on March 20 and will win one selection from the prize pool.

Most Valuable Hacker- The Most Valuable Hacker prize will be decided by the hackathon organizing team on March 20. It will be awarded to a single participant (not team) based on the participant contributions on Slack and/or social media before and during the competition. The MVH will win a 1 year LinkedIn Learning Subscription. 


Prize Pool includes...

(Prizes subject to change. The Grand Prize, Second Place, and Crowdsource Prize winning teams will select from the prize pool in that order. One selection per team. Once an item is selected, it will be removed from the pool and cannot be selected again.) 

  • One mentoring session for the team with a venture capitalist
  • One technical mentoring session for the team with an Ascend leader from a tech company
  • One hour of mentoring for the team with Ascend’s President or an Ascend Board member
  • Ascend membership for each team member (valued at $125 each) 
  • Nintendo Switch console for each team member (up to five)
  • $50 Amazon gift cards for each team member (up to five)
  • Echo dots for each team member (up to five) 

Hackathon Sponsors


Grand Prize

Tickets to Ascend’s National Convention in August 2021 for each team member (valued at $1000 each) plus one selection from prize pool

Second Place

Ascend membership for each team member (valued at $125 each) plus one selection from prize pool.

Crowdsource Prize

One selection from prize pool.

Most Valuable Hacker

LinkedIn Learning Subscription (1 year)

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:



  • Teams can consist of up to five members. Each individual team member must register for the event.
  • All ages are welcome to participate, including students and working professionals. Participants under the age of 18 will be required to complete a permission form.
  • Teams must have at least ONE Ascend member.
  • This competition is open to anyone from any country, however, teams must have at least ONE Ascend member.
  • Each team must work on one solution for a specific partner (see below).
  • Entries submitted by employees of sponsoring companies or organizations will not be judged by a judge from the same company or organization. 


  • Must commit to personally engage with the team and to attend the hackathon event.
  • Must be a specific small business entity (any industry) or an NGO that directly supports small businesses such as local Chamber of Commerce, small business association, etc.
  • Large businesses with a group, entity or initiative that directly supports small businesses are also acceptable.
  • Teams can select their own partner from personal networks* OR they will be paired with a partner at event kick off.

*Team selected partners will need to meet with hackathon organizers to ensure that the problem statement presented is an appropriate level of complexity for the competition. 



Each submission requires:

  • Code submission to GitHub (not required but encouraged)
  • Project submission in DevPost
  • Project demo for judges 


Atul Mene

Atul Mene
Executive IT Architect and Hybrid Cloud Integration Practice Lead, IBM

Jasmeen Bal

Jasmeen Bal
Systems Integration Engineer, Lucid Motors

Matthew Lee

Matthew Lee
EVP, Product Engineering Division Head of Innovation, Global Banking Financial Services, Cognizant Softvision

Gilbert Wong

Gilbert Wong
Associate General Counsel, Patents, Facebook

Judging Criteria

  • Impact
    How impactful will this solution be to your partner?
  • Scalability
    What is the potential for scalability? How costly would this solution be to bring to scale?
  • Creativity
    How original is this solution? Does it set itself apart from other solutions through innovative or non-traditional methods? Does it demonstrate outside-the-box thinking?
  • Design
    How well designed is this solution, from a UI/UX (Usability) perspective?
  • Execution
    How well designed and executed is the solution from a technical perspective?

Tell your friends

Hackathon sponsors

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.