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#CamvsCovid

Local business and health solutions are winners in#CamvsCovid hackathon organised by MPhil in Technology Policy students.

Cartoon of a hackathon.

Entries focusing on local shops, the virtual shopping experience and remote health diagnostics were the winners of the #CamvsCovid: 72-hour virtual hackathon to seek solutions to problems stemming from COVID-19 (coronavirus). The hackathon last month was organised by the HackCambridge Foundation and students in the MPhil in Technology Policy programme at Cambridge Judge Business School. 

The student-led initiative was designed to demonstrate “solidarity and collective action to develop novel solutions” to problems associated with the pandemic. Ten Cambridge Judge faculty and other experts participated as speakers or jurors. 

Each team entering the event had 72 hours to draft its response to a pressing problem by video and text, and their 750-word text solution went through a juried review process. All the 750-word solutions, which totaled 11 entries, are being assembled into a portfolio. 

“I was home in Germany, and saw the German government do something like this on a larger scale,” says Darius Sultani, an MPhil in Technology Policy student at Cambridge Judge who is a key organiser of the event. “I knew the community we have at Cambridge Judge, and the School’s entrepreneurial and innovative spirit, so I thought that we could use the Cambridge Judge infrastructure to do something similar.”

The winner of the event was entitled “Localing”, submitted by an eight-member team (five of them current Cambridge MBA students), which involves a platform for connecting customers with local businesses again following the temporary closure of many small shops.  

Ghina M. Halabi
Dr Ghina M. Halabi, EnterpriseWOMEN

“Our platform gives community members the ability to pre-purchase discounted goods from local businesses now, which they will receive when the businesses re-open. This provides the businesses with the cash flow that they need in the short term to maintain operations and increases the chance of them being able to open again in the future.” 

The plan’s business model calls for Localing to operate as a limited company, with each pre-purchase from a local business involving a small service fee on a tiered pricing model to support Localing’s operations.  

Members of the winning team who are Cambridge MBA students are Ankur Aggarwal, Genna Byrd, Rob Cann, Deepak Ojha and Ashar Waseem, along with other team members Katie O’Flaherty of St John’s College, University of Cambridge, Terrell Ibanez of the University of Central Florida, and Vishnu Ravi of Cornell University. 

The joint runner-up was “Swipe Street”, submitted by a seven-member team of computer science, engineering and economics undergrads at the University of Cambridge, which aims to help small businesses and their customers adapt to social distancing through a platform that recreates the feel of High Street browsing. 

Dr Chris Coleridge
Dr Chris Coleridge

The team proposed an app through which customers can swipe through shop fronts and chat with shop owners. “Our app allows customers to personally ask for recommendations or arrange delivery without losing the unique attention that small businesses can provide,” the team said. The business model is a not-for-profit with a small fee on platform sales to pay for server hosting. 

The other joint runner-up was Team perfeXia.Health, which is a University of Cambridge spin-out company affiliated with the EnterpriseTECH programme at the Entrepreneurship Centre at Cambridge Judge. The proposal calls for building a preventative healthcare remote diagnostic system. 

With much NHS resource going to fight coronavirus, other treatments are delayed and labs are busy with COVID-19 tests, so “to ensure that people can still access important medical services, a tool is needed to remotely monitor patient health,” the team’s solution says. 

Jeremy Hutchison-Krupat
Dr Jeremy Hutchison-Krupat

The team’s solution, a TeleHealthMonitor, will “widen access to health services by integrating key vital signs” such as heart rate, respiration rate and oxygen saturation “to present a holistic image” of a user’s health. The plan calls for the use of edge machine learning to protect user privacy. 

Speakers from Cambridge Judge at the virtual event included Dr Chris Coleridge, Senior Faculty on Management Practice, on idea generation; Dr Jeremy Hutchison-Krupat, University Senior Lecturer in Innovation & Operations Management, on prototyping and testing; and Dr Ghina Halabi, Programme Lead, EnterpriseWOMEN at the Cambridge Judge Entrepreneurship Centre, on storytelling and testing.