JKUAT Students win Microsoft Imagine Cup 2014

The innovative quartet from left: Solomon, Peter, Alex and Kevin

The innovative quartet from left: Solomon, Peter, Alex and Kevin (PHOTO: Adhere Cavince)

An application developed by four students from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology has won the 2014 Microsoft Imagine Cup, Kenya national finals competition. The application was declared winner Tuesday, during the awards ceremony at the Microsoft Kenya offices, Nairobi.  It aims to create geographically stratified community of users who can respond to calls for blood donation when a member is in need, a response to millions of people who die around the world annually due to lack of transfused blood.

The innovative app dubbed ‘Life Buddy’ is a brainchild of team ‘Africon’ comprising of Kevin Gitau, Solomon Mwika, Peter Wasonga and Alex Kinuthia, all third year students; under mentorship  of Calvin Kebati.

‘It is a great experience to identify a need and develop a globally applicable solution that we believe can be harnessed to save lives,’ said Peter Wasonga, the team leader.

Kenya Red Cross reports that Kenya collects only 130, 000 pints of blood annually against the required threshold of 400, 000 pints. Poor blood donation has partly been blamed on lack of awareness.

 ‘We continue to see people seek blood as a result of accidents on our roads, and other complications. This drove us to begin donating blood seasonally. We believe it is time to leverage on technology to get more people involved,’ explains Alex Kinuthia.

 According to the US based Brookhaven National Laboratory, over 4.5 M deaths are said to occur annually due to lack of or inadequate blood for transfusion. The World Health Organization says this can be averted if 3% of global population between ages 16 and 65 could donate blood every year.

 The app allows a user to create profile where information on blood type and location is fed. When in need of blood, a user posts a request which is then sent to other users of same blood type within the locality. The prospective donors can then respond by going to the medical facility where the recipient is and donate blood.

Speaking during the awards ceremony, Microsoft’s Roy Owino noted that the app is practical, innovative and globally applicable and has unrivalled potential create an impact

This is not the first time JKUAT students have won the challenge. The 2013 edition was also won by a trio from the University, who proceeded to represent Kenya at the worldwide Imagine Cup finals in Russia in July 2013.

According to Microsoft, the initiative is a way for young entrepreneurs, innovators and developers to have the opportunity to develop an idea, create a product, set a clear business plan and event take their product to market.

Another application  christened ‘teach space’, by JKUAT students won second place in the competition. the app is a cloud based platform that enable teachers and students to interact and share resources beyond confines of distance and time. It was developed by Earnest Ndung’u, Stephen Kamau, Brian Kihara and Clinton Ingalia, all from the School of Computing and Information Technology.

Following the national wins, the two apps have been submitted for the Microsoft Imagine Cup Worldwide Semi finals. Team Africon is optimistic the innovation is ripe for global competition.

‘We look forward to sharing our idea with the world as part of our contribution to make humanity better through deployment of technology,’ opines Wasonga.

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