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Hack The Hub Tech Event Returns To Belfast

From left Conor Graham (founder of #HackTheHub & director NIGMA), Marion Rybnikar (senior director of Data Strategy & Governance at Slice) and Kyle Harrison (senior software engineer at Slice & Organiser at Pybelfast) #HackTheHub will be taking place on May 28 at Slice in Belfast. Photo Arthur Allison / Pacemaker for Excalibur Press For more information contact Tina Calder, Excalibur Press, 07305 354209, tina@excaliburpress.co.uk

The UK and Ireland’s number one leading hackathon series has announced their return to Belfast this month for #HackTheHub22.

Founded by a group of Data Science students in Northern Ireland, this year’s annual event will take place on Saturday, May 28 hosted in McAuley House, Belfast and marks the return of the in-person innovative tech event that combines all things code, creativity and community.

#HackTheHub Director Conor Graham, revealed the 2022 theme is Data and AI, both increasingly popular developments in the tech industry: “This year we are bringing together the intersection of data and artificial intelligence. Teams will explore areas such as forecasting, time series analysis, natural language processing and machine learning techniques.”

“We chose this theme because that’s the way the economy is going. Everyone wants to be using data and analytics to learn more effectively and run their businesses better but many don’t know how to do that.”

The hacking extravaganza runs from 09:00am to 10pm and welcomes developers, data scientists, designers and product owners of all levels who will spend the day developing innovative solutions and tackling a number of challenges within the space of 12 hours. 

Senior Director of Data Strategy and Governance at Slice, Marion Rybnikar said: “#HackTheHub is back and Slice is delighted to be part of it. At Slice we believe in community. We tackle challenges, we collaborate, we persevere and we celebrate our successes together which is at the heart of HackTheHub and exactly why we are sponsoring this year.

“We’re excited to finally get the Belfast tech community back together and what a way to get things started. As a company, we value big ideas and bold goals and we can’t wait to see what the teams dream up at this year’s Hackathon.”

Conor said that the #HackTheHub22 hackathon is ideal for both those breaking into the tech space, but also those already in the industry that haven’t had the chance to develop these sought after skill sets.

He added: “#HackTheHub provides the perfect opportunity to try something different. Being in a team with people who have a wide array of skill sets ensures there’s a solid kind of proof concept there that they can then go to look to take further on down the line.

“In the past it has helped people secure jobs or companies have straight up offered multiple job offers. There’s also been people starting businesses, building products and starting their careers from it.”

With Slice as the headline partner, other partners include: Insider Inc, Confluent, Enthuse, Github, Nigma, Datactics, Analytics Engines, Barclays Eagle Labs and help from the community groups PyBelfast and Women Tech Makers, all tickets to the event are free and will begin on Saturday morning. 

Judges will decide which solution is the “Best Application Use of Data & AI” in Northern Ireland and will score based on the level of innovation, business value and quality of pitch.

Previous attendee hacker, Kathleen said that her time at the event was a great opportunity to connect with other like minded individuals: “I met so many people working in tech at HackTheHub. They were so willing to help out, so supportive and I am so glad I got the opportunity to attend.”

For more information and tickets go to hackthehub.com

#HackTheHub22 is sponsored by Slice, Confluent, Insider INC, Enthuse, GitHub, Datactics, Analytic Engines, Barclays Eagle Labs and Nigma.

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£350,000 Match Funding to Councils to Grow the E-charging Network

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon is to allocate £350,000 match-funding which will be available to councils to grow the e-charging network to support the decarbonisation of transport and help mitigate climate change.  

Minister Mallon said: “Funding is available from the Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles (OZEV) for local councils to provide charge points for residents without off-street parking through the On-street Residential Charge Point Scheme (ORCS). I have set aside an allocation of £350,000 of match-funding within my department’s Blue Green Infrastructure Fund, for councils that submit a successful application to the ORCS. This ORCS funding cannot be accessed by my Department, it is available to local councils and it is for them to apply individually or collectively. 

“I would encourage local councils, where possible, to access this ORCS funding for the installation of charge points on residential streets. My Department has been working closely with councils to encourage them to take up that funding, and that work is ongoing.

“I am writing to Councils to advise them of the availability of the £350,000 match funding, subject to public expenditure processes, if they are successful in drawing down ORCS funding from OZEV. I would again encourage councils to avail of the ORCS funding which provides a grant for 75% of the capital costs of procuring and installing charge points and associated dedicated parking bays.”

The e-car public charge point network is owned, operated and maintained by the Electricity Supply Board (ESB).

The Minister added: “I have met ESB representatives to encourage it to repair non-functioning charge points, and I am pleased that it has commenced a replacement programme that will upgrade a number of faulty charge points with more modern operational charge points. ESB has recently confirmed that it has completed the replacement of the first 15 charge posts (30 charge points) and has received very positive feedback. ESB has also advised that this work programme is being carried out in two phases with the second phase of 15 double-headed charge posts (30 charge points) to be carried out later in the year including 5 Rapid charge points.

“I have also provided match funding for the EU INTERREG-funded Facilitating a Sustainable Transition to EVs in the Regions (FASTER) electric vehicle network project, which will see the installation of additional Rapid charge points here.”

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Importance of Improved Digital Connectivity Cannot be Overstated

(L-R) Economy Minister Gordon Lyons, Griana Fox, Fibre Ambassador and Fibrus Networks’ Hyperfast NI Programme and Commercial Director, Shane Haslem.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons has visited Killyleagh as hundreds of homes and businesses in the area go live with access to next generation access broadband speeds under Project Stratum.

Project Stratum represents a £150million investment by the UK government, allocated to the Department for the Economy as part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement, alongside £15million by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs with further investment by the contractor, Fibrus Networks Ltd.

Department for the Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “Killyleagh is the latest town to go live as a result of Project Stratum, the £165 million infrastructure project which will bring Next Generation Access broadband to over 76,000 premises across Northern Ireland. This investment in our broadband infrastructure is set to transform the broadband connectivity landscape here. Hyperfast NI, delivered by Fibrus Networks Ltd, have now completed work they began earlier in the year in the Strangford area, including towns such as Killyleagh, Killinchy and Newtownards. This announcement sees over 640 premises in the area, previously identified as being without quality coverage, with access to hyperfast broadband speeds. As a result people and businesses are already seeing the benefits of improved connectivity.

“The importance of improved digital connectivity cannot be overstated. It can mean better access to online services for businesses and members of the public alike. An improved online presence can help businesses to sell their goods, promote their services and in the case of our local tourism providers help them to attract visitors and people to the area. 

Pictured in Killyleagh are (L-R) Economy Minister Gordon Lyons and Fibrus Networks’ Hyperfast NI Programme and Commercial Director, Shane Haslem

“This is the latest announcement by Fibrus, with extensive work across South Down and other towns in Mid Ulster and the North Coast already completed and I look forward to tracking progress as more and more premises go live across Northern Ireland.”

Fibrus Networks’ Hyperfast NI Programme and Commercial Director, Shane Haslem added: “Providing rural communities like Killyleagh with proper connectivity opportunities and access to quality broadband is at the heart of what we do. For too long, rural and regional areas have gone without adequate broadband infrastructure, despite being a hub for local businesses, start-ups and support services.

“When the pandemic hit, we were urged to ‘Stay at Home’ and confined to working, learning and entertaining ourselves from home. This unsurprisingly increased the demand for online and digital usage, meaning broadband quickly became like any other utility. To modern homes and businesses, it is now as essential as your electricity and heating.

“We are delighted that Killyleagh and other parts of the Strangford area have now joined the Rural Revolution, as our full fibre network goes live. We will continue to address the imbalance in rural connectivity across Northern Ireland and we look forward to seeing more communities enjoying the benefits of our transformative full fibre network.”

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