Hyundai’s Hackathon “Hack a Road,” a Blueprint for Shared Growth

Hack a Road

Hyundai Motor Group (“Hyundai”) started accepting applications this week for its second annual hackathon, “Hack a Road,” which is to be held this coming November. This year, Hyundai is expecting to expand the scope of the hackathon beyond talent-recruitment and further seeks collaboration opportunities with startups.

Whereas only individuals, such as undergraduates and graduate students were eligible for Hyundai’s first hackathon in 2016, this year, Hack a Road extended its participation to startups. The reward remains much the same as last year for individuals who demonstrate outstanding performances: prize money as well as an advantage to Hyundai’s recruitment process. As for the winning startups, they will get a chance to be reviewed as Hyundai and Kia Motors’ prime investment target on top of taking home the hefty cash prize.

In addition to the hackathon awards, Hyundai plans on involving the winning startups in developing the world’s best connected car and infotainment system technologies through continuous cooperation and joint technology developments.

This plan reflects Hyundai’s determination towards its open innovation model, which it has been progressively implementing in order to secure global competitiveness in the vehicle-IT sector. Hyundai had involved a domestic startup in its collaboration with Cisco for developing a connected car technology in the past. Besides the partnership with Cisco, Hyundai has been very active in cooperating with various global players like Baidu, Kakao, and SK to become the pioneer in the field.

If successful, this joint technology development will result in a successful shared growth model and leave a desirable example of a collaboration between conglomerates and SMEs. As the title suggests, Hack a Road may become the platform for startups to gain global momentum through Hyundai.

Hackathons originated from Silicon Valley in the mid-late 2000s. Countless number of companies including Apple and Google continue to deduct new ideas through hackathons today. In a hackathon, which is a word originating from the words “hack” and “marathon,” various computer software technicians like programmers and designers team up and restlessly discuss ideas to produce a complete software within a limited amount of time.

The first Hyundai hackathon was held in August 2016. 500 teams applied, among which 37 teams with around 100 people made it to the main round and ran through a 30-hour sprint. This year’s Hack a Road is expected to resemble last year’s.

Hack a Road limits the number of people per team up to three, and requires the team to submit innovative service ideas related to connected car and infotainment. 40 teams will be selected from the initial submissions in late September, which will leave the selected teams with less than 2 months until the main round in early November. During the preparation time, professional researchers from Hyundai will be mentoring on materializing their ideas. The main round will be held on November 8-9, where teams will gather and discuss, allocate assignments, and program the skeleton business plans into salable commercialized products. The grand final between 8 selected teams from the main round will take place on November 17. Professional judges will select three winning teams based on their presentations.

For more information on Hack a Road including detailed application process and timeline, visit (in Korean only).

Max is an LL.M. Candidate at Georgetown University Law Center. He is interested in the social impacts made by startup companies, and longs to contribute to the betterment of emerging companies. Max can be reached at


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