Published on February 25th, 2013 | by Jake Dalli0
Million Dollar Idea Born as Students Christen Innovation Centre
Eight groups of students took to the freshly inaugurated Microsoft Innovation Centre lastweekend to come up with, prepare and present a ‘Million Dollar idea’ within just 54 hours. Patrick Buhagiar and Lukas Plaehn from Denarii went home with the prize for the winning idea.
Organised by the ICT students’ association in collaboration with MIC and a number of sponsors, ‘The Million Dollar Idea’ is a business start-up programme prompting students to prepare a business idea over a weekend.
“It’s one of those products you hear about and say I don’t have that – the market is clear, the product is clear, they should be able to pull it off if they give it the effort it deserves.” said Nikita Logachev, a tech entrepreneur, when speaking of Denarii
Denarii’s business is based around scanning and storing data from receipts in order to allow users to obtain reports and analyse their spending. Project Echo, a business targeting the visually impaired by replacing guard dogs with technology, placed second.
Latvian media student Roberts Viksne won the honourable mention category, proposing the most simplistic of ideas; a sign-like mat which helps commuters signal Malta’s notoriously careless bus drivers.
Amongst the other ideas pitched were virtual campus, a mobile application providing students with up-to-date information about their respective campus; Project penny-lane, a platform connecting innovators with investors; and Suretabl.es, a booking system for restaurants.
Offering criticism to the students, judges emphasized financing and costs; saying that start-up founders shouldn’t be over-reliant on advertising income and that such would cause difficulties.
“Organising the competition has been a great experience, some groups stayed up till 7am perfecting their business plans… moreover, this was the perfect place to hold the competition”,commented ICTSA president Tamara Caligari, “We plan to turn it into an annual event – maybe even with a larger audience.”
Inaugurated last Friday Malta’s Microsoft Innovation Centre is one of many around the world, typically consisting of a partnership between government, academia and the ICT industry – with the aim of assisting ideas and start-ups.
“We are focusing on three core areas: start-up and project support, skill development and networking.” says MIC manager Dr. Edward Portelli. The MIC works hand-in-hand with other initiatives such as Bizspark and Website Spark, which provide entrepreneurs with software and other services.
“Students can benefit from the programmes treating the business side or the ICT side”, Dr. Zammit continues, “We have IT camps as well as project support – providing students with software and hardware which they don’t have access to.”