Hackathon sees participants coming up with tech ideas for the food industry

18 teams present their ideas at the 2017 F&B Tech Hackathon organised by the Restaurant Association of Singapore, at SMU on May 9, 2017. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - Jobseekers may soon be able to log on to a mobile app to gain access to certification and part-time jobs in the food industry.

This was an idea that was conceived by three final year Republic Polytechnic students in a matter of 48 hours.

They had all served in the food industry and felt that there was a serious problem when it came to finding qualified employees.

"We've all personally been in the industry and so we understand how hard it can be to find part-time jobs especially when not everyone may be qualified. We hope that this idea will help business by giving them a pool of people to employ when they need them," said one of the team members, Muhammad Herwan Shah Bin Zaurin, 24.

Their idea was one of the many that was pitched at the Restaurant Association of Singapore's inaugural F&B Tech Hackathon, held on May 8 and 9.

Over 70 participants in 18 different teams took part in the two-day event.

Participants had to design tech-based solutions to solve issues facing the food service industry.

They then had to pitch these recommendations to a panel of judges from the industry in an attempt to win a total of $9,000 in prize money.

The ideas pitched included plans to help manpower shortages, high rental costs and the rising cost of ingredients.

Teams also had the unique opportunity of showcasing their plans to top people in the industry, many of whom were present at the event.

The panel of judges included Mr Edward Chia, chief executive officer of Timbre Group, Ms Chew Mok Lee, the assistant chief executive of SPRING Singapore and Ms Sarah Lee, the associate director of business sales in Singtel.

Some of the solutions that participants pitched included reducing the need for a waiter by allowing customers to order and pay through an application.

There were also proposals to introduce a programme that would reduce the training time of new employees.

At the end of the event, many participants were approached by other teams or industry professionals who wished to collaborate with them or to find out more about their ideas.

One of the teams, Spacebar, was approached by another team who wanted to collaborate on their plan to rent out unused spaces in restaurants and bars.

This idea will enable people to rent space in a restaurant or wine bar as a co-working space.

The team had only met one day before they pitched their project and had developed the idea over the course of the 48-hour hackathon.

Mr Kiki Kosasih, 51, the director of the restaurant, Ayam Bakar Ojolali, said that he will be contacting two of the groups that pitched their ideas in order to possibly work with them.

"The reason why I attend these events and use the ideas pitched is simply because I know that these solutions work for my restaurant," said the director.

He added that he reduced his staff from 11 to nine people after he started using delivery apps such as UberEATS and FoodPanda and reported a 10 to 15 per cent increase in revenue.

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