The Future of Truth: Ericsson Innovation Awards 2018
Closely aligned with the theme of this year’s Nobel Week Dialogue, the theme of the 2018 Ericsson Innovation Awards (EIA) competition was “The Future of Truth”. We challenged students around the world to propose technical solutions that improve people’s ability to find, validate and share information in a fully connected world. More than 1,400 university teams representing 107 countries entered the competition.
Fifteen semi-finalist teams were selected to receive three months of mentoring by Ericsson experts to finetune their solutions before the four finalists were selected to come to Stockholm to compete in the grand finale event. All finalist teams received cash prizes and special opportunities during their all-expenses-paid visit to Stockholm, and had a chance of winning the grand prize of 25 000 euros.
I had the honor of moderating the jury during the grand finale event at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm on the evening of May 17, which meant that I had the opportunity to hear the impressive presentations of the four finalist teams as well as the jury’s comments. The four finalist teams were:
- Team Alfred (USA), whose solution is an AI-powered personal assistant that gathers information, identifies bias, and sifts through the noise
- Team OwnLabs (Senegal), whose solution aims to address the shortage of school labs in Africa by offering physics, chemistry and biology classes in virtual reality (VR) via smart phone
- Team TL;DR (India), whose platform summarizes and simplifies user agreements to help consumers make informed decisions
- Team Open Sesame (China), whose platform reviews and verifies retail reviews and ratings to ensure a more reliable shopping experience.
After the presentations, the jury (which included Mattias Fyrenius, CEO of Nobel Media; Patrick Mesterton, CEO and Co-Founder of Epicenter Stockholm; Marina Petrova, Professor at KTH Royal Institute of Technology; and Anita Frisell, Head of Technology Development & Execution at Ericsson Research) announced the grand prize winner – Team OwnLabs from Senegal.
The motivation behind the jury’s decision was the sheer simplicity of Team OwnLab’s idea to help young people gain access to experimental science via smart phones and VR technology. The jury members all agreed that OwnLabs’ solution is the best use case for VR or augmented reality (AR) that they have ever seen, with the potential to have a major impact in classrooms not only in Senegal, but also worldwide.
The members of Team OwnLabs – Abdou Khadre Diop, Mouhamadou Moustapha Diop, Thierno Ibrahima Diop, and Serigne Mbacke Coly – are based at the École Supérieure Polytechnique de Dakar and the Université de Ziguinchor. “Winning EIA helped us have more credibility and even our president congratulated us,” they told me, when I touched base with them last week to get their reflections on winning the grand prize. “We hope the with this award, we will have the funds and collaboration needed to get our solution to market.”
At Ericsson we know that the mobile network platform is a powerful enabler for scaling up local ideas and initiatives to reach a global market. We hope that Team OwnLab will be able to transition their concept into a classroom reality soon, because we all stand to benefit from more students in Senegal and around the world gaining access to better science education.
I am convinced that the Ericsson Innovation Awards play an important role in helping us to identify, recognize and develop students’ future-forward ideas. As a company, we are deeply committed to identifying change-making talent and helping to make smart ideas into reality.
I found it really inspiring to meet all four of the finalist teams and learn more about their ideas to contribute to The Future of Truth. We hope that the experience of working with Ericsson experts, coming to Stockholm and winning the prize money will encourage all of them to keep pursuing their ideas!
For more information about the four finalist teams, their solutions, and the 2018 competition in general, visit the Ericsson Innovation Awards 2018 site.
To learn more about Ericsson’s sustainability work, check out our Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Report 2017 at: www.ericsson.com/sustainability-report