Welcome! Thank you for your interest in applying to the Collaboration Hackathon - Applying Digital Incentives to Recruitment!

HACKATHON OVERVIEW: The “Collaboration Hackathon - Applying Digital Incentives to Recruitment” solicits applications and submissions on the topic of applying digital incentives to address challenges in converting attention to intention, specifically in cases of recruitment, both generally and in the case of medical clinical trials.

Recruiting for Clinical Trials: Essential to Companies, Future Medicine, and Public Health

This hackathon invites those interested in the problem of empowering intention to submit applications and then to participate in developing solutions for a particularly important societal problem—medical clinical trials. Recruitment—of employees, donors, and supporters—is the lifeblood of businesses, philanthropic organizations, and political candidates. For example, it has been reported that a major U.S. Democratic Presidential primary candidate spent $7.5 million in three weeks on Google paid search ads. That works out to roughly $140 for each of the roughly 50,000 voters whose votes were decisive in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election—in just THREE WEEKS. Of course, there are U.S. laws against paying for votes, but might there be a better way of recruiting political support?

The hackathon asks applicants to submit ideas and/or build solutions applying digital incentives to the recruitment challenge. Blockchain could be relevant here. For example, for looking at ads, users can receive Basic Attention Tokens as rewards, which can then be used to support publishers.

Medicine: The special case of Clinical Trial Recruitment

Applicants selected to participate in this hackathon will apply digital incentives to the special case of recruitment for medical clinical trials. ClinicalTrials.gov currently lists over 300,000 clinical research studies, but over 80% of U.S. clinical trials fail to timely recruit the required number of patients. Roughly 20% of cancer clinical trials fail due to inadequate participant recruitment. Increasingly complex trials reduce participation rates. Recruitment of lower income and ethnically diverse participants is a particular pain point. Slow and inadequate recruitment and low retention of patients for trials are major sources of research inefficiency, in terms of cost, timely delivery of research, and reliability of findings. Small differences in enrollment rates can result in large additional costs for trials.

The clinical trials recruitment use case was recommended for testing in graduate student course work, which led to its being the subject of a Columbia University Innovation Challenge in 2019. For more details, please read Can A Media Crypto Token Improve Clinical Trials? Columbia Innovation Challenge Says ... and posts referenced therein. Although few adults see compensation as an important benefit of participating 3 in a trial, actual participants view compensation as one of their favorite benefits. However, there are ethical guidelines and legal regulations relating to clinical trials, including the use of incentives, for patients and others, in the clinical trial process. This hackathon fundamentally addresses informing and incentivizing the right audiences to support trials for new treatments that could improve and save lives.

The Hackathon

This hybrid online/on-site hackathon (the “Hackathon”) invites.

1) Invites applications by qualified teams, which may include a prototype or wireframe for applying incentives to recruitment, as well as their plans for further development of an application of digital incentives to recruitment.

2) Invites selected participants to: Assess a particular development site for applying digital incentives to recruitment of participants for clinical trials

Propose and execute improvements, additions and/or complements to that site.

Provide plans for further development of their applications.

InvenTrust facilitates the entire process and your relationship with the sponsors.

Industry Sponsors: InvenTrust, CryptoOracle, others TBA

Columbia University Sponsor: Lab-to-Market Accelerator Network

Prizes! Winning teams will receive prizes from sponsors. Winning teams and top individual performers will receive monetary prizes, and all participants will be eligible for sponsored internships, with matching determined by Hackathon performance and fit with the sponsor.


In the Attention Economy, companies, universities, political organizations, and even artists invest billions of dollars in advertising and other marketing campaigns to win the attention of customers, academics, voters, and fans. Target audiences are often defined through profiling and personal data.

More valuable than attention is intention—of those defined by their willingness to respond to calls to action. Where the Attention Economy focuses on shoppers, eligible voters, and spectators, the Intention Economy focuses on purchasers, actual voters, and donors (of both time and money).

How can we design the incentives that would cause people to support important “public goods” by empowering them in the new Intention Economy? This hackathon addresses this problem with a particular lens on recruiting support for medical clinical trials.

Collaboration Hackathon Timeline

Timeframe will begin when Hackathon is shared with participants

**sponsor engagements

Dec 23rd – Hackathon applications open

  • Hackathon is shared with prospective applicants. All those interested in applying should register on the InvenTrust platform as soon as possible.
  • Applicants are asked to form teams of two (2) to five (5) people.
  • Each team application includes a bio of team members (written and video format), along with other application information.

Dec 23rd – Jan 10th

  • Live Q&A sessions with Hackathon organizers open to all interested in applying

Jan 10th Midnight ET - final deadline to apply

All application materials need to be submitted by this deadline.

Jan 13th **

  • Organizers complete decisions on teams to admit as participants in the Hackathon.

Jan 14th - formal kickoff

  • Online kickoff event for all teams who are selected to participate in the Hackathon

Jan 14th – Jan 25th

  • Participating teams receive access to sponsor clinical trial recruitment site for purpose of their work in the Hackathon.
  • Teams work on Hackathon submissions.
  • InvenTrust platform access used for facilitating collaboration between and among teams
  • Online “ask me anything” (AMA) sessions

Jan 24th Noon ET – all submissions for made available to organizers for review

  • All submissions by teams wishing to participate in the on-site Hackathon event on Jan 25th must be made available on the InvenTrust platform to the organizers by this deadline.
  • Note: The number of teams selected to participate in the on-site Hackathon event will reflect space constraints of the venue and the capacity of the organizers. Teams will be notified of their selection to participate in the on-site Hackathon event.
  • All teams may continue to work on their submissions after this deadline.

Jan 25th 9am-11pm ET **

  • On-site Hackathon event in New York City

Jan 25th Midnight ET – all submissions due

  • By this deadline, all teams participating in the Hackathon must submit their work for review by the organizers.

Jan 26th **

  • Judges select finalists to present.
  • Finalists present and judges select winners of Hackathon.
  • Sponsors on judging panel
  • Prize awards for Hackathon are announced.
  • There will be a closing party for sponsors and participants.
  • The Hackathon is open to: individuals of all nationalities and places of residence, who are at least 18 years of age as of the team applications deadline.
  • Team Applications Deadline: the application period is from December 23rd, 2019 until midnight Eastern Time (ET) on January 10th, 2019. To register and apply, please go to InvenTrust.
  • Your application should include a short video (<2 minutes) that describes your team, the experience you can bring to the Hackathon and why you'd like to be part of the Hackathon. You can submit one or more videos per team. Please note that the production quality of your video is not important: we just want to get to know you! Feel free to record on your phone and upload to a video hosting site like YouTube or Vimeo, or to a shared Google Drive folder and provide a link to the video. Please do not email any videos directly. If necessary, please provide a password or other required instructions for accessing the video.
    • (Optional) Insert URL of your video
    • (Optional) Insert Video password (if any)
  • Please make sure you answer the following questions:
    • What makes your team well-qualified to tackle the Hackathon?
    • What do you know about this area that others do not? What special skills or types of expertise do members of your team possess?
    • Describe your ideas about the problem. What is your approach, and why will it be effective?
    • For each individual, what is your primary motivation for applying to participate in the Hackathon? Please select the best response:
      • The networking experience
      • The opportunity to learn more about subject matter of the Hackathon
      • The cash prizes
      • The internship opportunities
      • The opportunity to build something which you could pursue further after the Hackathon
      • The opportunity to build something which you could pursue further after the Hackathon
      • The opportunity to work further on the subject matter of the Hackathon after the Hackathon, regardless of whether it is on what you build during the Hackathon
  • Collaboration Hackathon Team Members
    • In your team’s application, please designate one person as the Team Lead / primary contact person for the Hackathon. Please name your team. The team leads will enter their last name and email twice: as team lead and as member. Prospective applicants interested in the Hackathon who do not have a team are welcome to register and apply for the Hackathon and whenever possible they will be assigned to a team.
    • The team in total should have no fewer than two(2), and no more than five(5) members.Each team should preferably have at least one member with a background in computer science, medical research, or marketing.
    • Every member of the team will need to provide the following information:
      • Team Member: Email address
      • Team Member: Last Name and First Name
      • Team Member: Graduation Year, Institution, Degree(s)
      • Team Member: Phone Number
      • Team Member: City and Country of Residence
      • Team Member: Age as of the Team Applications Deadline
      • Team Lead: Last Name
      • Team Lead: Email address
  • All those selected to be participants will have roughly two(2) weeks to work on the Hackathon.The InvenTrust platform will be a tool of collaboration between and among teams, and materials registered during the application process of the Hackathon will be available on the InvenTrust platform for use during the Hackathon.Participants will also have access to the Hackathon sponsors.Hackathon participants will be provided access to a prototype application of one of the sponsors for purpose of their work during the Hackathon.
  • Hackathon on-site event. The on-site Hackathon event will be from 9am-11pm ET on Jan 25th at the Columbia Lab-to-Market Accelerator Network, and final submissions will be due at midnight ET on Jan 25th. For participant teams with at least one member either affiliated with a New York City-based university or residing in the New York City metropolitan area, at least one member of the team, and preferably all members, must attend the on-site event on Jan 25th.
  • Prizes: For the Hackathon, judging and prize award announcements will be on Jan 26 th. The winning team will each receive at least $1, 000, and the second - placed and thirdplaced teams will each receive at least $500, and the top - 3 individual performers will receive at least $200 each, and all participants will be eligible for sponsored internships, with matching determined by overall performance in the Hackathon and fit with the sponsor.The best teams will be determined by a panel of judges, who will select the winning teams and individual performers for prize awards.Participants interested in internship prizes will begin the matching process after the announcement of the Hackathon prize awards.Sponsors and selected participants will arrive jointly at the appropriate internship placements.Further details on internships and internship matching will be provided closer to the event.
  • All those interested in applying must first register at InvenTrust
  • When possible, applicants should seek to form interdisciplinary teams including computer science, data science, medical research, and marketing expertise. Reach out to your friends!
  • Applicants and Participants should leverage all available resources, including publicly available application program interfaces and data, as well as domain experts.
  • Participants should specifically assess the sponsor online application to be made available during the Hackathon, which is a development site for applying digital incentives in marketing clinical trials and in incentivizing engagement of potential participants with steps in the trial intake process.
  • Rules for the Hackathon will be available on the InvenTrust website.


The goal of the Hackathon is to solicit applications concerning the application of digital incentives in recruitment, and to solicit submissions from selected applicants that apply digital incentives in the recruitment of participants for medical clinical trials, while encouraging and tracking collaboration in the completion of these applications and submissions.

Submission Requirements

Participating teams will need to deliver their submission overview in the form of a recorded three (3) minute verbal video presentation. Videos should describe the technology and use case, and may include a maximum of five (5) slides.

In addition to the video presentation, a written presentation is required, which must:

  • If in the form of a white paper, be no longer than five (5) pages, and, if in the form of a slide presentation, be no longer than ten (10) slides
  • Identify problems in recruitment of clinical trial participants, which are resolved by the team’s use of digital incentives
  • Address the value of the application submitted for participant recruitment for clinical trials, including an assessment of any impact on the quality of the recruited participants and subsequent participant retention

Finally, the submission must include an application that is an improvement, modification, addition or complement to the development site to which they are provided access, along with supporting documents (GitHub links, code execution instructions and other binaries and all other artifacts to use the code and the binaries, InvenTrust registration).

Submission Judging Criteria

The judges will rate each submission based on:

  • Quality of the application or prototype, including implementation completeness and its feasibility and potential for use for its stated purpose: 35%
  • Potential of the overall recommendations to help foster improvement in participant recruitment for medical clinical trials: 20%
  • Quality of presentation, with a limitation on the number of references to 25, and quantitative analysis when applicable being preferred: 15%
  • Use of InvenTrust platform during the Hackathon: 15%
  • Evidence of team effort and collaboration, including participation in the final on-site Hackathon event: 15%

Reference Materials

Columbia Innovation Challenge