The Idea Challenge was different from most as it was open to students of both science and business backgrounds, which is rarely the case. In other instances, the complexity of the competition restricts this from happening. The participation of international students also added an extra dimension to the competition. There were a host of nationalities as competitors from Nigeria, Yemen and Afghanistan also participated.
BUET, BRAC University, BUP and KUET were among the entrants, but Dhaka University and IUT came out on top. So let's look at the ideas of the winning teams and what set them apart.
Runners up - Team Cereal Killers
Team Cereal Killers from IBA, DU, consisted of members Nafisul Abrar, Mohammed Shahriar Sharif and Sameem Shahriyar.
There was a sharp decline in the number of foreign tourists in Bangladesh from 2008 to 2014. However traveller.com lists Bangladesh in the top 10 hottest tourist destinations. The team attributed the decline of tourists to a lack of information about tourism in Bangladesh and also the unfriendly attitude toward tourists. They also recognised that the tourism sector has the potential to contribute USD 2.5 billion to the economy. The simple solution was to take advantage of this opportunity by bridging the information gap.
Enter Desh app. An integrated tourism app that helps book hotel rooms, know about places to visit and rent cars. The more unique features included a 360 degree panorama view of the hotels and sites, virtual tours and the giga selfie (an ongoing project of Tourism Australia). However, the major service would be to provide tour guides. Kayak and Expedia were recognised as major potential competitors, but neither had a significant presence in Bangladesh, nor did they provide all the features of Desh. Not only did the team provide evidence of the proposal's commercial feasibility, but they also stressed the fact that it had social implications as well.
The factors that set Team Cereal Killers apart were their first-rate presentation skills and detailed slides. What made them even more noteworthy was the fact that the team members were freshmen students who matched up well against other senior competitors.
Winners - Team S.O.S.
Samin Yeasar Arnob, Riyasat Ohib and Shafayat Naznoor Ahmed from IUT won first place at this year's IT Business Idea Challenge for their app MedHub.
There is no fast response for health emergency due to a lack of prior information about the patient. Often prior knowledge of the patient's specific conditions such as immunisation history, drug reactions and allergies can be the decider between a successful diagnosis and a fatal mistake. Due to lack of specific information, patients find it hard to access the modern treatment which is already available in our country. Hospitals face logistical nightmares to provide timely care to admitted patients because of inefficient medical procedures. There is no current platform in Bangladesh which connects the doctors, patients and other professionals under one umbrella.
The solution is to create a central database that will collect medical information for all clients using both the MedHub app and the hospital's central information system. The features of the app will be to locate nearest hospitals and doctors, an appointment service and an emergency ambulance service. The website will include a medical forum where patients and doctors can connect for free, authenticated doctor profiles and newest treatment information. MedHub looks to save time when it is most crucial.
This team was no doubt ahead of the pack as they possessed perfect knowledge about the technical side while demonstrating commendable business understanding. They got all the figures right, which helped show the plan's commercial and technical feasibility.
Overall it was a great learning opportunity for the competitors because of the valuable feedback from the judges. The crossover of ideas from business and IT was also something to relish. The judges were of similar opinion. Mohiuddin Khan, a judge and professor at IUT said, "The eclectic mix of business and engineering was stimulating. That is where this particular event is of great importance." In the end, both ideas showed how technology can be used for the betterment of people while doing some good business.