Startup GardenMate won $200,000 for using AI to help gardeners bring produce to those in need.

Jeffrey Schwartz

December 9, 2022

7 Slides

Startup GardenMate won the fifth annual Call for Code Challenge grand prize for the produce recycling app that it developed. GardenMate (shown above, receiving their award) and four finalists received the awards Tuesday night during a ceremony at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

The five finalists were among several thousand developers of all sizes who submitted apps designed to enable sustainable practices. Developers entering the competition had to use at least one IBM service based on public, private or hybrid cloud technology.


Call for Code’s David Clark

Call for Code is a global effort created in 2018 by the David Clark Cause (DCC). Led by founder David Clark, DCC runs various cause-based programs, including the World Healing Project, Global Human Rights Symbol and National Medal of Honor Day.

Clark formed Call for Code, looking to promote the development of solutions that will offer positive societal benefits. Key Call for Code contributors includes the United Nations Human Rights, the Linux Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative University.

Seeking a lead technology partner, Clark reached out to IBM’s senior vice president Bob Lord, who was chief digital officer at the time. “I met with him, and he was on board,” Clark said. Lord, now senior vice president for IBM’s The Weather Channel and alliances, recalled that conversation during the ceremony.

Solving Real-World Problems

“The goal was pretty simple,” Lord said. “It was to inspire the 24 million developers in the world to use IBM technology to solve real-world problems and help communities around the world. When people responded, tapped into the expertise of the IBM community, the innovators, gave them the tools, helped them use it in a real-world solution.”

Lord said Call for Code has evolved into a much larger program than he had imagined at the time. To participate in Call for Code, developers had to use IBM’s open-source software and tools. IBM provided developers looking to compete in Call for Code access to its AI and open-source software, including IBM Watson Assistant, IBM Cloud and Red Hat OpenShift.

“Call for Code is the largest tech for good initiatives of its kind,” Lord said. “And we should be really, proud of that. We didn’t do it alone. We needed the growth of the partners that really helped us in the partnership to sort of lean forward on this, that helped us build the innovation, and inspire the developers and the innovators around that.”

Call for Code Partners

While IBM is the lead and organizing tech provider, the Linux Foundation also provides technical resources to the program. From the outset, IBM recruited some of its ecosystem partners as sponsors and participants. Among them include Arrow Electronics, EY, Intuit, Persistent Systems, Ingram Micro and New Relic. Besides offering financial support, the partners played a role in fielding entries from developers.

A panel of the partners and other selected judges, including former president Bill Clinton, collectively selected the winners. “Each of these partners ran a challenge for their own developers because they all have sustainability goals that they’re trying to move forward with,” Savio Rodrigues, VP of ecosystem engineering and developer advocacy, told Channel Futures.

“They use Call for Code and IBM’s involvement as the platform to drive those projects with their developers,” Rodrigues added. “And that helps with their own developer engagement. This is a really big deal for all of us in terms of growing the ecosystem around IBM technologies. And at that same time, driving social good.”

Kate Woolley, general manager of IBM’s ecosystem, who leads the company’s Call for Code program, was among those who distributed the awards. Wooley considers the participation of IBM’s partners a critical aspect of the program. “We don’t want this to be about IBM selecting the winners,” Woolley said. “It’s really important for us to have that diverse panel selecting the winners. I think it gives a lot of credibility to the program.”

The Winning Apps

GardenMate took home $200,000 from this year’s competitive app bakeoff that began with several thousand entries. Formed by Augustana University students, GardenMate’s app uses IBM’s Watson to help gardeners distribute excess produce to those in need.

The second-place winner, pn, developed an AI-based camera that monitors canals for plastic waste. Nearbuy, which created a shopping app that directs consumers to local merchandise, came in third place. Both companies won $25,000.

Fourth place went to ESSPERA, which developed an app that uses machine learning to help farmers choose seeds for planting. And SwatchBIN, which produced a machine-learning algorithm to help classify waste items for recycling, came in fifth place. The fourth and fifth-place winners each won $10,000.

An award for student entries went to a team of developers from Monash University Malaysia. IBM and The Clinton Global Initiative University awarded $15,000 for the app called TransXEnergy. TransXEnergy is an auction and blockchain-based per-to-peer energy trading platform.

Click through the gallery above for more images from the Call for Code event.


Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Jeffrey Schwartz or connect with him on LinkedIn.


Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

Free Newsletters for the Channel
Register for Your Free Newsletter Now

You May Also Like