Monday, August 2, 2021

Four USIU Students win KES 13 Million at 2021 Imagine Cup

Four students from USIU-Africa have been named as the winners of the 19th edition of the annual Imagine Cup, which brought together thousands of students from 163 countries to reimagine technological solutions that would positively impact their communities.

The four students, Khushi Gupta, Jeet Gohil, Dharmik Karania and Abdihamid Ali (Team REWEBA), won the grand prize for their IoT-based infant monitoring solution, which remotely analyzes infant parameters during post-natal screening and serves as an early warning intervention system. The team won USD 75,000 (KES 8,058,750), a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and a USD 50,000 (KES 5,372,500) Microsoft Azure Grant. 

Speaking after the win, the team members explained the rationale behind their project, which was submitted under the Healthcare category, noting that the program was designed to solve the problem of lack of healthcare access in marginalized communities.

“Before putting together the project, the four of us had interned at a local hospital, where we saw first-hand the challenges that faced mothers, especially in terms of access to healthcare for newborn babies. This lack of healthcare access, compounded by the effects of the pandemic contributed to a high mortality rate,” they said.

The project, Remote Well Baby (REWEBA), is an early warning system that digitally monitors babies’ growth and health parameters and sends them to doctors for timely intervention. It combines Machine Learning, IoT, Analytics, and more to provide innovative functionalities for infant screening, mimicking the process of post-natal screening in a hospital. 

Khushi Gupta, one of the team members noted that the development of the solution was driven by the need to enable equal access to healthcare and preventing instances of infant mortality.

 “Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest number of infant mortalities, highlighting the gap in healthcare services. REWEBA is the only remote healthcare solution that provides regular growth monitoring for infants from the comfort of the home, while also giving direct access to doctors for immediate intervention,” she said.

The Imagine Cup seeks to challenge students to come up with something that matters to them, and along the way, have a chance to develop their skills and have access to the tools, resources, learning materials, and mentors to help competitors bring theirs projects to life. This was reiterated by team member Jeet Gohil, who noted that they learned about various technologies and their use during the development of their project.

“There’s a lot of technologies that we came to discover {through building our project}, for example Azure DevOps, IoT, and Functions. We learned a lot about how to build IoT systems,” he said.

The team hopes to enhance and scale their project to include additional infant screening factors and a postnatal screening device for mothers, and over time, they hope to launch a start-up to support and improve healthcare access across the country. The team also hopes to expand the project throughout the African continent, and India, which they note are some of the regions with some of the highest infant mortality rates.

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