From an app to help people with speech disorders, to an engineering design to make jet engines more efficient, the LAUNCH.ed 2018 Business Ideas Competition has celebrated the inventiveness of students and recent graduates.

There were more than 100 entries in the annual competition, which for the first time included a separate engineering-focused category, sponsored by Sainsbury Management Fellows’ Engineers in Business Fellowship.

In another first for the competition, the awards ceremony was preceeded by a panel discussion, ‘How to Win at Business Competitions’, featuring successful past and present LAUNCH.ed clients and an Edinburgh Innovations business adviser.

Winners

In each of the two parts of the competition, three awards were presented, including cash prizes of £500, £300 and £200.

First prize in the general competition went to Wang Yau Li for Speakeasy, an app to help people with speech disorders.

Yau Li, who is studying for an MSc in Speech and Language Processing, aims to develop a speech analysis and feedback app to allow people undertaking speech therapy to improve their independent practice between therapy sessions.

Runner-up was fifth-year Informatics undergraduate Karol Stanski for his system to identify and count plants and animals using drone imagery.

Karol has developed a prototype while working on a dissertation project with the School of Geosciences. He aims to replace the manual process of species counting with a near-real-time system for ecologists tracking changes in biodiversity.

Third place was taken by Alexander Adam Laurence, who aims to enable NGOs to assess malnutrition in children using AI to analyse smart phone photos of children’s fingernails.

Engineer awards

The competition for engineering students was won by George Dzavaryan, Moritz Muller, Iman Mouloudi and Will Saputra with Augment Bionics, which designs and manufactures affordable bionic arms for use by amputees and people born without upper limbs.

The team wants to drastically reduce the cost of functional prosthetics and are targeting an NHS partnership.

In second place came Arthur Chee and Dilyana Karavasileva with their automated strawberry-harvesting arm.

Their design aims to be more efficient and less bulky than existing designs, achieved with more degrees of freedom and an internal conveyor belt system.

And the final engineering winner was Dileep Dasari with Dassun, a simple vortex-generating system which can potentially decrease fuel consumption of turbofan engines by 10%.

Panel discussion

More than 50 students and graduates were in the audience for the panel discussion to hear advice from LAUNCH.ed clients and business adviser Liza Sutherland.

The panel featured Alison Wood, founder of social enterprise Lilypads; Denny Schenk from Retromixer; and Lorenzo Conti, last year’s winner of the Business Ideas Competition and founder of Crover. LAUNCH.ed intern and current student Jack McMillan led the discussion and, with Lorenzo, presented the winners of this year’s Business Ideas Competition.

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