[This is a sponsored article with Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd.]
Malaysia’s own MYHackathon 2020 competition, organised by Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, has come to a close.
From it, emerged 18 winners whose digital solutions to improve public services were impressive enough to earn them their share of grant prizes.
Among the cohort of outstanding performers were NEUON AI and Ozel. Their submissions stood out and gained special recognition from the Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation Dato’ Sri Dr Adham Baba during the MYHackathon 2020 Graduation Day event that happened this December 1.
To help us fully appreciate what the two winners have achieved this year, we spoke to Mohd Noor Hisham bin Abdul Bari, who’s the Manager of Stakeholder Engagement & Partnerships at Cradle Fund.
Filling gaps and also potholes
Malaysian roads, especially in less developed areas, are notoriously laden with potholes. To address this, NEUON AI’s RoadPlus platform uses AI to detect road damage, and the speed at which it does this allows potholes to be fixed within 24 hours.
According to the Sarawak-based company, this solution does away with the more traditional manual inspection processes, which require lots of paperwork and human resources. RoadPlus is even reliable enough that the Public Works Department of Sarawak (JKR) uses it for road maintenance work.
Thanks to the MYHackathon platform, the team was able to complete a number of pilot projects with federal and state road concessionaires. Today, RoadPlus is officially running and being put to good use by JKR.
They’ve also deployed over 10 Road Maintenance Units (RMU) across Sarawak since this September and raised a whopping RM2 million in funding.
On top of that, the guidance they received during the event allowed them to secure six memorandums of understanding (MOU) at the Expo Dubai 2020 fair.
With these achievements, NEUON AI was properly rewarded with the award for Best Commercialisation Project during the MYHackathon 2020 Graduation Day event.
“NEUON AI was recognized because of a high-value MOU they signed at Expo Dubai 2020. A team that has just started its journey in MYHackathon to be able to sign an international MOU is of very high value to Cradle,” shared Hisham.
He also added that the team managed to sign with partners from both China and Malaysia, which further bolsters the brand’s commercial value.
RoadPlus isn’t the team’s first foray into AI, however; since its inception in 2018, they’ve been working on several products.
There’s NEUON-BOX, an interactive advertisement platform that utilises AI facial recognition to help companies put out better advertisements; and GoTani, a farm-management platform that uses precision farming and AI technologies to help farmers easily collect data about their crops.
Learning made accessible for the deaf
A person’s spiritual beliefs can be crucial in shaping who they become, and that’s why children learn about their religions from their parents first, then from school. Unfortunately, not every child gets the same opportunities to learn.
A 2021 study published in the International Journal of Research in Progressive Education & Development agrees with this by saying that the hearing impaired are part of a disabled community in Malaysia that lack access to proper Islamic education.
To address this issue, Ozel created iskanDAR, a series of interactive books and an app on basic Islamic learning that children can study using the help of augmented reality (AR).
Ozel is a social enterprise and its mission is to help disabled children of varying needs. One of the ways they do so is this: if you purchase two of their educational products, they will donate one unit to those in need.
Thanks to iskanDAR, Ozel’s founder Ruzaimi Mohamed bagged himself the award for Best Social Impact during MYHackathon 2020 Graduation Day.
“The solution developed by Ozel is very niche and has the added weightage of social impact as it helps disabled people who are deaf,” said Hisham.
This year, Ozel ran a three-year pilot programme and gained 62 user downloads for the companion app and a worldwide user base that reaches countries such as Germany, Kuwait, India, and Iraq.
“Ozel was recognised by the Ministry of Entrepreneurship as a social impact enterprise this year, and they are one of the solutions that aim to give back to society,” Hisham added.
The company has another product too in the form of BIMO. It’s a similar tool that teaches deaf children sign language; and together with iskanDAR, Ozel hopes that these kids, whose access to mainstream education are limited, can properly learn about and embrace their religion.
Ozel’s project was selected to be implemented under the Aspirasi Keluarga Malaysia (AKM) initiative thanks to its collaborations with the Johor State Education Department (JPNJ) and the Deaf Society of Johor (SDJO).
Success spurred by support from Cradle Fund
Cradle Fund—as an agency under our local Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI)—is responsible for restoring the resilience of startups. Therefore, MYHackathon 2020 is such an effort and it’s implemented as part of the National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA).
As such, winners of MYHackathon 2020 now have more funds in their coffers to flesh out their products; but their successes didn’t come without help.
“It’s not only about the money, but also the experience, and the knowledge that Cradle can provide to the winners,” Hisham shared.
He explains that through the programme, the winners learned how to manage their money, commercialise their technology, and sustain their businesses.
However, that’s not to say the winners wouldn’t have been able to achieve success by themselves; but rather the extra funds and guidance afforded by Cradle allowed them to fast track their progress.
Hisham believes that NEUON AI are hardcore entrepreneurs and would’ve found a way to secure investors anyway, but their participation in MYHackathon quickened the process by one to two months.
Meanwhile, as noble as Ozel’s motives are, they would’ve found it hard to get their application off the ground.
“The founder wants to develop an app that helps people, but it was only after the event that he realised there’s a lot more to building his startup,” he said.
With this newfound knowledge, Ozel can empower more disabled communities across the globe with its educational products.
Hisham further added to what MYHackathon 2020 provides by saying that some of the winners had possessed an entrepreneurial spirit from the onset, but the event showed how hard it is to be a startup, and how to build their business
- For more information about MYHackathon 2020 or upcoming events, click here.
- You can read more about Cradle Fund here.
Featured Image Credit: Cradle Fund