U.S. Embassy Hosts First-Ever Haquathon

Haquathon participants gather to celebrate successful events in Manila and Cebu.

Manila, July 3, 2019 — The U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, in partnership with Save Philippine Seas (SPS), hosted the first-ever Haquathon from June 28 to 30, 2019.  Thirty-five teams participated in the Haquathon, a search for tech-based solutions to save our seas.

The three-day program opened with an “AdvocaSea” workshop, bringing experts in marine research and conservation together with tech innovators to address pressing issues facing our seas.  The 48-hour haquathon followed the workshop.

Teams of students and  professionals ranging from 14 to 74 years old developed tech-based solutions to address one of four categories: illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and coastal law enforcement, preventing or reducing marine pollution, coral reef conservation and restoration, or environmental education.

SPS Executive Director Anna Oposa explained, “The Haquathon was a meeting of the minds between innovators and marine conservation advocates.  It served as a laboratory to come up with tech-based solutions for Filipinos, by Filipinos, for our rich but threatened marine areas.”

Teams pitched their solutions to a panel of judges on the final day of the program.

The Haquathon winner in Manila was Trevali (TRaceability and EVALuation Intelligence), an app allowing small-time fisherfolk to certify and trace their catch while countering IUU fishing.

Runners-up in Manila included Junk Exchange, Project SERENA (Solid Entraining Receptacle for Enviro Nautical Applications), and AQUAloop.  Junk Exchange is a solid waste management proposal to prevent marine pollution via a “crowd-junking system.”  Project SERENA is a microplastics filtration device for fighting marine pollution in marinas and community estuaries.  AQUAloop is an off-grid, economical marine buoy system that gathers and transmits ocean data for research and education.

The Cebu winner was ParrotFishNet, an app that helps protect marine sanctuaries and coral reefs by employing Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

Runners-up in Cebu included KaPatrol App, WAQ (Water Quality Monitoring System), and Reef Patrol.  KaPatrol App is an offline mobile app for reporting and monitoring illegal fishing activities.  WAQ is an IoT system that measures water quality in coastal areas and aggregates results into a dynamic database.  Reef Patrol is an app providing the public with real-time reef data for educational purposes as well as to help the government regulate activities that harm coral reefs.

Winning teams and runners-up received seed grants of up to Php 80,000 to help them implement their solutions.  The U.S. Embassy and SPS will provide the eight teams with coaching, networking opportunities, and technology development support to turn their ideas into viable products.

Trevali team member Laurice Janette Dagum said, “We are a startup that creates underwater analytics and surveillance by taking videos under the sea.  Due to the issue of illegal fishing, we were interested in helping fishermen through our app.  When we heard about the Haquathon, the financial prize was only secondary as what we really wanted was validation that there’s a need for the app.”

Winning teams will reconvene early next year to present their finished prototypes to Philippine government agencies and NGOs as potential partners for implementing the solutions.