Co-op students who participated in the challenge
The Discover AI: Smarter Economies Challenge, launched in January by Microsoft in partnership with McGill University and Agorize, came to an end on May 28th during the online Grand Finale. This competition, which gathered more than 570 participants, is a perfect example of the outstanding capacity of the upcoming generation of creators to leverage technology and raise the innovation bar in an impactful way.
Discover AI: Smarter Economies Challenge final event
MONTREAL, June 04, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Launched on January 6th, the objective of the Smarter Economies Challenge was for participants to leverage AI and Analytics to create impactful projects in one of four categories: financial services, healthcare, retail or smart cities.
The competition was open to students and alumni of all backgrounds, whether they were beginners or AI experts.
One of the particularity of the Smarter Economies Challenge is that it was designed by students for students. Microsoft co-op students are indeed the ones who established the framework of the competition, even choosing the different categories and the content participants had to include in their submissions.
Crystal Owusu-Amoah, part of the Azure team at Microsoft and active participant in the construction of the challenge, shared: “Joining the project team mid-way through the challenge, I was inspired by the incredible work that had been done by the cohort of co-ops before me and motivated to contribute the impact. It was an amazing opportunity to be a part of an initiative that contributed to the growth and empowerment of our fellow students.”
Throughout the course of the competition, participants effectively worked hand-in-hand using the different collaborative tools integrated into the Agorize platform. This capacity to cooperate fully remotely has been even more crucial in the context of the pandemic. However, having the possibility to use such tools is not the only factor that led to the remarkable success of the initiative. It is rather the participating teams’ outstanding capacity of resilience and adaptability that allowed them to overcome the difficulty of the situation.
Mentors from Microsoft also demonstrated a continued commitment to helping participants, both on business and technology side. Their support has been essential to encouraging students to break boundaries and surpass themselves.
As Wemba Opota, Artificial Intelligence Enterprise Solutions Lead at Microsoft, puts it: “This new generation has a profound desire to transform the world in a positive way. Values such as sustainability and durability are present in their DNA and what is happening in this challenge is the perfect illustration: a great diversity of participants coming together to create innovative solutions and challenge the status quo”.
As a result of this joint effort, 577 participants coming from 17 academic departments and representing 90 different Canadian schools and universities took part in the Smarter Economies Challenge.
After almost 6 months of hard work, finalist teams had the opportunity to present their ideas to the jury on May 28th, 2020.
The Grand Finale in itself was a great representation of the competition; with more than 570 spectators connecting worldwide to watch the live event, finalists demonstrated once again their capability to adapt to the situation and managed to do impressive presentations despite the additional challenge of presenting online.
Due to the very high quality of projects and the creativity displayed by finalist teams in addressing some of society’s most pressing issues, the final decision was incredibly difficult to make but winners were finally announced:
- 99Bits from University of Calgary, won the Financial Services track for creating an app leveraging three Microsoft Azure tools to provide users with clear and accurate information about the social and environmental responsibility of companies.
- Attentiv Medical from University of British Columbia, won the Healthcare track for their innovative catheter design that relies on AI & Machine Learning to prevent serious injuries that can result in high treatment costs.
- The Cactus from University of Alberta, won the Retail & Commerce track for their solution leveraging Microsoft Azure AI, Azure Blob and Azure App Service to provide a personalized service to help users decorate and design their residential interior.
- FLORA from University of British Columbia, won the Smart Cities track for their waste collection optimization solution, integrating both a device that can measure the fill level of a garbage bin and an online analytics dashboard.
These four projects stood out as they all cunningly integrated AI tools and offered concrete and feasible solutions to actually create smarter and sustainable economies.
More than simply obtaining rewards and prizes for their projects, finalists and participants as a whole gained unique skills that will boost their success as entrepreneurs, dreamers, thinkers and leaders of tomorrow.
You can find more information about this challenge and the winning projects here.
The Discover AI Upskilling Journey
Although the Discover AI: Smarter Economies Challenge came to an end, the learning continues!
Microsoft, in collaboration with Agorize, is proud to announce the launch of a new global initiative to democratize the use of artificial intelligence and provide participants with the opportunity to gain new skills and obtain recognized certifications.
Called Discover AI Upskilling Journey, this competition is open to students and the general public worldwide and is the perfect opportunity to develop new digital skills, obtain recognized certifications, network with industry experts and continue to challenge the status quo!
“If you’ve been watching the Discover AI competition from the sidelines, or perhaps you participated but want to continue your AI learning journey, the Discover AI Upskilling Journey is the perfect next step for you!” highlights Sarah Muma, Cloud Solution Architect at Microsoft. “A set of 6 sprints, you can learn at your own pace in either a technical or business track, and apply your learnings to mini-challenges along the way. Challenge yourself and your friends to learn something new this summer with the Discover AI Upskilling Journey!”
The Journey started on May 26th, and participation is entirely free.
For more information and to enroll to the challenge: https://bit.ly/
A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/