Re-posted from The Buffalo News

43North has turned its second annual “Code:Buffalo” event into an online competition, with $15,000 in prize money up for grabs.

Teams that sign up for the “hackathon” are being directed to “build something for Buffalo.”

“It’s really broad by design because we’re looking to inspire our participants to really build something impactful,” said Maura Devlin, a 43North spokeswoman. “As long as they can articulate how that will support the Western New York community, they can be a viable contender.”

The first-place prize is $10,000, with $3,000 for second place and $1,500 for third place. The competition is setting aside $500 in prize money for “mini challenges” during the competition week.

The virtual event will officially take place April 17 to 24, during which time participants will have access to mentors. Participants can register now and start building their project as soon as they sign up. The sign-up deadline is April 17.

Devlin said each team will want at least one person with technical skills, but not every team member necessarily needs to be a coder. “Maybe you have a friend who has kind of a creative mind and can bring ideas to the table,” she said.

Experts from the tech community will serve as the judges. They will look at factors like whether what’s created is a viable product that could be put to work once it’s finalized, Devlin said.

Judges will also look for projects that are as polished as the competition’s limited time frame allows. “We understand you’re not going to have a fully fleshed out and finalized product,” Devlin said.

Last year’s competition attracted about 200 participants, spread among different teams, and took place at downtown venues. This year’s was converted to an online format amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has halted large, in-person gatherings.

“This is the type of program that can work pretty seamlessly as a virtual event, especially with the focus on the tech community,” Devlin said.

43North still expects strong participation. “There are so many people, as they should be, at home right now,” Devlin said.

43North is putting on the hackathon in partnership with Techstars, M&T Bank, ACV Auctions and the University at Buffalo. For each registered participant, one meal will be donated to WNY Feeds the Frontlines, up to 250 meals.