30 hackers, 10 teams, 3 use cases, and 49 hours to get the job done. Allianz Global Investors’ first Hackathon, held in Shoreditch in East London, came to a close with rapturous applause from an audience and jury who were “inspired and fired up”, as put by Global Head of Strategy Thorsten Heymann.
Three days of coding and “hacking” by globally renowned start-ups culminated in a series of impressive presentations to the audience and a senior industry panel, including experts from across AllianzGI and Allianz Group. The judges named three winners, one from each use case, based on the ideas in their pitch and how their approach could be implemented within AllianzGI.
Coding for 49 hours needs a very structured approach to yield the desired high quality results everyone is aiming for.
After 49 hours, code was handed in and the groups started preparing for the pitches. It was showtime! And the ‘make or break’ moment who would win the proof of concept for each of three use cases in focus.
The afternoon was kick-started by Jackie Hunt, board member for asset management at Allianz SE and inspirational guest speaker Inma Martinez, AI pioneer and digital scientist who told the audience: “AI is a force for good; there is a place for us (humans) alongside AI”. Supporting the view from across AllianzGI that although machines will never completely replace the skills and experience of investment experts, Inma described how with the right data and processes ‘they can help improve investment success and expand the fundamental basis of investment decisions’.
Delivering extraordinary presentations, all 10 teams competed on stage for the win of the Proof Of Concept stage.
The first use case “Debiasing” was won by behavioural analytics firm Essentia Analytics. Highlighting why they won, Andreas called their proposition of proactive nudging “outstanding” and cited it as “a good fit for our thinking and the best solution to our challenge.” The second use case for AllianzGI's Grassroots research division, sponsored by Global Head of Grassroots Research Kelly Reuba, was awarded to Diffbot, closely followed by Import.io who will also progress to proof of concept phase. Commending Diffbot in what was a “very close contest”, Andreas Utermann said: “We thought they were the best fit for Grassroots from a philosophical perspective, we liked the proposition.”
And lastly, the winner of the Multi Asset forecasting use case was Causa Lens. Commenting on their presentation Andreas Utermann told the audience: “We chose the one that we thought could scale up most quickly and scale up each of the individual skills on the Multi Asset team – it was the best fit for what we are trying to achieve today.”
The Hackathon concluded with remarks from Thorsten Heymann who reinforced AllianzGI’s desire to embrace technology to help the company evolve as a firm and deliver the very best solutions for its clients. Commenting on stage, he said: “If we embrace technology in the right way, if we have an edge, then we can give the best solutions in active asset management to our clients. We carry technology in our heart and we have a passion for it. Ultimately that is why we are who we are….Active is: Allianz Global Investors.”