Boise Entrepreneur Week expanding ‘Hacking for Homebuilding’ challenge


If you’re looking to innovate in the development world, you might have a chance to win some cash. 

This fall, Boise State’s Venture College and Boise Entrepreneur Week will be holding their Hacking for Homebuilding challenge. Like last year, interested competitors will be presented with a challenge the homebuilding industry faces and will compete to see who can propose the best solution. But this time around, there will be a category for college students and the general public to compete. 

[‘A perfect storm’: Lumber and other building material shortages help drive valley home prices]

Hoping for a culture of innovation in construction

Boise State University’s Venture College Executive Director Nic Miller said he hopes this program will build on Boise’s long history as a place for the building material industry to thrive and encourage students to look at careers in the field. He pointed to established Boise businesses, like Boise Cascade, as an example. 

“Why not try to grab that mantle and say Boise is a place to innovate within this industry?” he said. “Much like if you’re a tech company, you’re going to San Francisco, and if you’re a medical startup, you’re probably going to Boston, why not come to Boise if you are looking to innovate in building materials?”

Up to $15,000 in cash prizes available for students competing from any higher education institution and $20,000 up for grabs for any member of the public interested. The prize money is fronted by the program’s sponsors, like Franklin Building Supply, and entry is free. 

Interdisciplinary teams mimic the real world

Competitors will be given a problem sheet created by the homebuilding industry, and teams will have to come up with a proposal to solve it during the 13-day competition. Miller said the problems would not be one-off issues but larger problems that require a more systemic solution. He said teams would have to do interviews with the homebuilding companies, study the market and potentially create a prototype project to test in the field. 

[Calling all entrepreneurs: Applications open for Boise Entrepreneur Week]

Finalists will pitch their concepts at Boise Entrepreneur Week. Miller said there is no minimum amount required for teams, but groups made up of students and members of the public from multiple fields are “strongly encouraged.”

“Typically in their project work engineers go to the engineering classes, and journalism majors go to the journalism classes, and marketers go to marketing classes, but here all of those folks will be put together to work on a project,” Miller said. “It mimics the real-world experience that they’ll have when they go into the workforce because they’ll have to speak different jargon and understand where different people of different disciplines are coming from.”

If you’re interested in competing, sign up here.

Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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