Talented young hackathon participants explore next-generation media experiences.



Represented at PennApps XII

In September, Comcast partnered with PennApps — the world’s largest collegiate hackathon run by students — to give valuable experience and exposure to future technologists. For three days, 2,000 of the world’s top young coders huddled in the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia (owned by Comcast Spectacor) to showcase their skills. Student teams had 36 hours to build the most innovative software and hardware products they could imagine, in chosen categories and with preexisting parts and demanding constraints.

Participants hailed from countries as far away as Spain, Australia, and Cameroon, but they all had one thing in common: a desire to show the world what hacking really means. For a long weekend, we had a chance to engage with a community of aspiring dreamers, builders, and innovators who might someday push the envelope for our customers as Comcast NBCUniversal developers.

"We’re able to expose these students to what’s happening in our hometown. And in the absolute heart of it all is Comcast. These rising tech stars come to see us in a different light."

—Sam Schwartz
Chief Business
Development Officer

"We’re always committed to investing in the next generation of entrepreneurs and technologists," says Comcast Chief Business Development Officer Sam Schwartz. "Events like PennApps, our Home4Summer internship program, Philly Tech Week, My Philly Summer, Start.Stay.Grow, and others are a great way for us to jump-start entrepreneurship and identify future talent."

PennApps hackers didn’t disappoint. Prizewinners included the "lifesaber" smart-watch app, which helps first responders perform CPR, and the Mago system, which allows people with limited technology skills to interact with the digital world without a digital interface.

PennApps wasn’t the only event in 2015 that highlighted Comcast NBCUniversal as a home for young technology talent.

A hackathon participant experiments with virtual reality.

Following the success of our inaugural Comcast NBCUniversal Hackathons in 2014, the series continued with events in March (Orlando, Florida) and June (London). The Orlando hackathon — which focused on developing cool ideas and technologies in immersive entertainment — featured 42 teams competing for cash, prizes, and the chance to pitch their ideas to NBCUniversal Media Labs.

London hackathon teams used hardware, software, and content to develop prototypes that explore next-generation media experiences for NBCUniversal International Distribution and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment International.

In August, Comcast was a presenting sponsor at the first-ever Open for Innovation Day, hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. In a role reversal, established companies pitched funded innovation projects to qualified startups seeking partners.

Orlando participants were challenged to build a platform for personalizing video, imagery, or art from their favorite NBCUniversal films.

Events like our hackathons provide an ideal opportunity to attract and engage the future of innovation. That’s especially important for the day these bright young minds seek venture capital, a new job, or a pitch session with a resourceful partner. And in the case of Philadelphia-based PennApps, it allows us to show off a bit, too.

"We’re able to expose these students to what’s happening in our hometown," Sam says. "The tech and startup scene, the accelerators, the innovation hubs — and in the absolute heart of it all is Comcast. These rising tech stars come to see us in a different light, and look to us as future partners or employers."