The UK’s next generation of innovators have gone head-to-head to create a range of exciting solutions that could enrich the home delivery industry at a Hackathon organised by Hermes, the consumer delivery specialist. A multi-platform live chat application and an enhanced GPS tracking solution designed to drive down fuel consumption were among ideas concocted by students from Leeds Beckett University and judged by a panel of experts including a member of Google’s technical team.

Hermes, who delivers parcels on behalf of 80% of the UK’s leading retailers and etailers, including John Lewis, Next and Arcadia Group, staged the event alongside the University in order to encourage the innovators of tomorrow to bring pioneering ideas to life. To facilitate this, Hermes granted the students special access to its sophisticated development portal and the company’s APIs (Application Program Interfaces).

Five student teams competed against industry thought leaders from the Hermes Innovation Lab, in an attempt to create the next big delivery solution in just six hours. The winning group, Team 404, devised an application to streamline the shipping process for myHermes customers, including increased functionality when printing multiple shipping labels. Team 404 also impressed the judging panel by examining different ways it could potentially integrate with external APIs, belonging to organisations such as eBay and PayPal. Each team member received an Amazon Echo Dot as a prize.

Runners up on the day (The Wolf Hack) focused on bringing Hermes’ ‘Live Chat’ platform to a number of different devices, including smartphones and digital assistants such as Amazon Alexa. They each secured a shopping voucher for their efforts.

The judging panel was formed of: Carole Woodhead, CEO of Hermes; Chris Ashworth, CIO at Hermes; Zoe McClelland, Head of Business Strategy, Operations and Enterprise at Leeds Beckett; and Sean Davis, Technical Consultant from Google, who flew in from Switzerland specifically for the event.

Carole Woodhead said: “The energy, creativity and commercial prowess displayed by this group of students has been truly remarkable. I was impressed by how each team took the time to understand our business and developed highly innovative solutions that could make a real difference to the home delivery sector moving forwards. Every student who took part in our first Hackathon did a fantastic job, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see many of these talented individuals working at Hermes HQ in the years to come.”

Zoe McClelland added: “One of the key priorities for Leeds Business School is the employability of our students. This is a fantastic opportunity to engage with an organisation such as Hermes to put into practice what they’ve learned.

We’re very grateful to the organisations, like Hermes, that take time out to work with our students.”

David Turner, Head of Innovation at Hermes, played a key role organising the event. He said: “Taking part in events like this gives us access to students who are thinking outside the box. They’re not constrained and we see some ideas that we would never have thought of. It’s a good chance for students to meet us and show us some of their great ideas. We’re always recruiting and will provide start-up funding if we see an idea with real potential and look at sponsoring a team to take that idea forward.”