More than RM40,000 went home to winners of the inaugural Disrupt-IT Challenge (DIC), a competition that aims to connect students from various disciplines to innovate disruptive tech solutions to improve lives.
Sponsored by Prestariang Bhd, and supported by Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), the event was jointly organised by five Malaysian universities — University Malaysia of Computer Science and Engineering (UNIMY), Multimedia University (MMU), Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Taylor’s University and Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA).
Launched last year, DIC’s goal is to facilitate entrepreneurs in information technology, or techpreneurs, in proposing a tech-based disruptive project that can support or enable increased affordability, sustainability and innovativeness among industries and communities alike.
Prestariang Bhd chief executive officer and DIC founder Dr Abu Hasan Ismail said: “My vision for the competition is to stimulate the next generation to think beyond their academic scope and bring about change that can leave a large impact to society by using technology to make lives better.
“As this is the first competition, hopefully, in the future, more students will get a better sense of the mission, which is to find solutions to problems through this challenge.
“Also, through the competition, I hope to see students from different fields — business, medical, technology and communication — come together and work as a team to elevate lives through innovation and disruptive technology.”
The competition received more than 100 submissions from foundation, degree and postgraduate students from 26 institutions. The finalists were from UNIMY, MMU, UniSZA, Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, International Medical University (IMU) and Asia Pacific University (APU).
The finalists were judged by a panel comprising senior educators, industrialists and practitioners. The submissions were evaluated based on a combination of the proposal’s innovativeness and disruptiveness, commercial viability, as well as its impact on the market, society and environment.
Team Green Dream bagged the first prize, worth RM15,000, with its project “In-Situ Micro Algae Bio-engineered Harvester”. They also received the Best Business Model award.
The winning team said: “We will use the money to produce another variant of the product so that we can capture an additional five per cent market share in the fish-breeding segment.”
The second prize winner, team Readpublic, received RM10,000 and grabbed the Best Pitch Award and Best Exhibition Booth through its one-stop platform for book price comparison and used books marketplace. The team was represented by students from UM, IMU and APU.
The third prize, worth RM5,000 went to team iSPARKS of MMU, who employed deep-learning algorithm in its “Integrated Outdoor Smart Parking System”.
Finally, team CHLORING from UTM won the Best Creative Idea through a smart wearable device that monitors health and automatically informs family members in the event of an emergency. In addition to the monetary prize, the finalists got the opportunity to develop a continued relationship with industry professionals, who will serve as mentors and advise the teams in furthering their projects in the future.
UNIMY vice-chancellor and organising chairman of the competition Professor Datuk Dr Khairuddin Ab Hamid said: “The first challenge has seen a good take up. Moving from hackathon, DIC is a platform for students of various disciplines to table their ideas with commercialisation element. Our mentors from MaGIC and others have made this initiative a plausible one. I am looking forward to the next one.”
MaGIC executive director and DIC chief judge Aditya Tuli advised young techpreneurs to be persistent in their pursuit for success and be consistent in getting feedback from customers. He also reminded future techpreneurs to place more focus on business viability of their products.