For three youngsters, designing an application named Winsenga that performs ultrasounds on pregnant women and detect problems such as ectopic pregnancies or abnormal fetal heart beats has earned them great local and international recognition. The trio of Aaron Tushabe, Joshua Okello and Josiah Kavuma (Team Cipher256) have won the Microsoft Imagine Cup Grant of $50,000 (about sh125m). According to Microsoft, this grant will help the students transform their projects into social enterprises or nonprofits that will address a specific social issue.
Imagine Cup and the grants are part of Microsoft’s YouthSpark program, which is the company’s commitment to reach 300 million youths in the next three years through technology, training, and experiences that empower them to imagine and realize their full potential. Among the applicants for this grant, 13 teams were initially selected as finalists having received the highest marks based on a combination of criteria: impact & viability, team quality & motivation, solution design & motivation and problem definition.
The trio (all students at the College of Computing and Information Sciences) were mentored by Joseph Kaizzi, Davis Musinguzi and supported by the Microsoft Innovation Centre-Uganda. They received the award during the Social Innovation Summit held on December 4th in Silicon Valley, USA. Apart from the cash prize, they will also receive software, cloud computing services, solution provider support, premium Microsoft BizSpark account benefits and access to local resources such as Microsoft Innovation Centers. Microsoft will also connect grant recipients with its network of investors, NGO partners and business partners and will work with the grant recipients to tailor individual support as needed depending on the progress each team has made so far with its project.
“We are grateful to Microsoft for giving these youth an opportunity to innovate and help the mothers around the world. This grant shows that the youth have the power to change our lives and we shall continue to partner with organizations that are willing to explore their potential,” said Maria Muzaaki, the College communication officer.
During this year’s Imagine Cup final held in Australia, only two teams from Africa made it to the top 20 competitors. Team Cipher256 became the first team from East and Southern Africa (excluding South Africa) to make it to the second round at the Worldwide Finals becoming the only Sub-Saharan African team to make it to that round in the history of the Imagine Cup. In the end, Winsenga was ranked in the top 10 overall.
Basing on their innovativeness and will to help solve one of the world’s biggest problems (maternal health), the team was selected to showcase their innovation at the ITU Telecom World 2012 in Dubai, courtesy of Uganda Communication Commission (UCC). The event was held in Dubai from October 14-18th, 2012. It brought together major stakeholders in the world’s ICT sector to connect and exchange knowledge, showcase technology, talent and investment opportunities.