The forest economy is vital to New England but the industry has been slow to adopt technology to allow it to stay competitive against other forestry markets. In a region once dependent on paper mills it is clear that we must ask what does a post-paper regional forest economy look like? Where is there opportunity for innovation that will not only be embraced by the industry but also create more value across the industry.

This year teams will pick one of three problems statements to develop a solution around. Some problems are broad, others are more naturally tied to a technology solution but all will be fun to dig in to! Teams will spend 5 days collaboratively working to design, prototype and develop solutions that they're most drawn to. 

The Future of Forestry Hackathon schedule of events:

  • October 12, 2020 - Hackathon Kickoff
    • 5:30pm - Welcome
    • 5:40pm - Hackathon Problem Statements Introduction
    • 5:50pm - Industry Speakers on the Problem Statement
    • 6:20 - Hackathon Guidelines, Resources & Rules
    • 6:30 - START HACKING!
  • October 16, 2020 - Hackathon Demos & Awards
    • 5:00pm - Project Demos & Presentations
    • 5:40pm - Judging & Deliberations
    • 6:00pm - Awards Ceremony

This event is part of NEK Entrepreneurship Week hosted by Do North Coworking. 

2020 Future of Forestry Hackathon Problem Statements


Problem Statement Background
How can environmental and geospatial data be used to evaluate potential logging margins to ensure they are commensurate to the financial risk associated with harvesting wood? Reliable margins in logging can be challenging to come due to unforeseen environmental factors. In many cases, market value of the harvested wood doesn’t reflect the time and risk associated with the harvest for specific trees. Whether the most valuable trees are two miles in through dense forest requiring significant time and fuel or the tree is on steep slope making it very dangerous or challenging to harvest, the market pricing doesn’t reflect these factors, nor do loggers have the tools to do this evaluation.
What tech tools could strengthen relationships between small wood suppliers in northern New England and the performance the building industry, which is increasingly interested in local sourcing of wood for climate benefits? The performance build/design community (US Green Building Council, Passivhaus movement and others) is seeking to shorten supply chains and avoid materials with a high embodied carbon content (such as concrete, steel and aluminum). Some of their needs are already being met by traditional building supply stores. (For example, some of the plywood and most of the pine boards, pine pattern siding and spruce-fir dimensional lumber sold in New England is grown in New England.) Robust, small-scale relationships exist for local wood supply from small local mills, but most operators are utterly swamped by demand. And, the lack of marketing capacity and retail options are serious bottlenecks. But more of their needs could be met by small and medium-sized sawmills if stronger linkages could be forged. Products produced by these mills include northern white cedar (for shingles, clapboards, decking, and trim) and hemlock (pressure-treated lumber for landscaping timbers, sign posts and deck framing). But many of these mills lack the staff or expertise to reach beyond local markets and may even view on-line markets with suspicion as tools for increasing competition among suppliers and driving down prices.
How can technology be used to change perception of the broader public around the use of wood products as a renewable resource and highlight the benefits sustainable harvesting? In New England, and specifically Vermont, there are many opportunities to expand the use of wood products and create a more resilient local economy in the process. The regulatory environment and environmental concerns (some warranted) hinder the ability of these markets to grow. Whether it is locally sourced wood heat in wood pellets, manufactured architectural materials like mass timber or wood fiber Insulation, all of these products are renewable and store carbon and are grown right here in VT. How can we change public perception so that these locally sourced materials can be best utilized.



All participants must also sign up for the hackathon event NEK Entrepreurship Week registration:

Participants must be 18 years of age or older.

Participants must be residents and located in the United States or Canada.


All teams and participants should have final projects submitted by 4pm EST on Friday, October 16th. 

Each team will be given 10-minutes to present their finished project to a panel of judges started at 5:30pm, October 16th. Please review the following presentation template, while use of this template isn't required, we STRONGLY recommend teams to speak to each of the topics laidout when presenting:

One member must be designated on each team to present their project.

Projects that incorporate peripheral hardware but must be available and in view during the final presentation.

Hackathon Sponsors


$1,000 in prizes

Cash & Prizes

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:


Evan Carlson

Evan Carlson
Do North Coworking

Christine McGowan

Christine McGowan
Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

Matt Clark

Matt Clark
Whiteout Solutions

Bradley Beth

Bradley Beth
Northern Vermont University

Sam Roach Gerber

Sam Roach Gerber
Vice President, Vermont Center for Emerging Technology

Joe Short

Joe Short
Northern Forest Center

Judging Criteria

  • Fit/Solution
    Does the project create viable solution to one of the challenges or problem statement? Is the project scalable? Is it likely that the forestry & wood product industry would adopt this technology? What is the business case?
  • Technology/Innovation
    How technically impressive was the hack? Was the technical problem the team tackled difficult? Did it use a particularly clever technique or did it use many different components? Did the technology involved make you go "Wow"?
  • Design/Implemention
    Did the team put thought into the user experience and doe it consider all the different user groups? Was the team able to implement an effective solution to the problem using the stated innovation?
  • Completion/Presentation
    Does the hack work? Did the team achieve everything they wanted? Did the demo and presentation have a clear narrative that articulated the implemented solution?
  • Impact
    Does the solution, innovation, and implementation have definite positive impact on the forestry and/or wood product industries? Will it create new job opportunities in wood products and forestry?

Questions? Email the hackathon manager

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