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Two UC student teams win prestigious IT awards

Two UC student teams win prestigious IT awards

Augmented reality stock management and cloud-based health and safety management concepts have shot two entrepreneurial groups of University of Canterbury (UC) students into the top three in the national MYOB IT Challenge for innovative business solutions.

Their plans to make life easier for small to medium-sized businesses saw the UC teams, Grow Your Own Business (GYOB) and SafetyCheck, awarded second and third place respectively in the national competition, at the weekend.

Team GYOB includes UC students Fiona Ambler, Logan Williams, and Prasanth Sasikumar, who were awarded second place for their innovative stock management application, which uses augmented reality technology. Team SafetyCheck, consisting of UC students Hugh Baird, Stephan Hofmann and Angus Schuler, was awarded third place for the idea to develop health and safety management software to further enhance cloud-based accounting.

SafetyCheck team member Stephan Hofmann, who is studying toward a Bachelor of Commerce at UC, says the MYOB IT Challenge was an exciting way to apply what they have learned in class to a real-life situation.

"It was great to learn how to work as a team and think of innovative ideas. I even improved my coding skills.”

It is valuable to think about how to turn IT ideas into workable business propositions, Stephan says, something the SafetyCheck team plans to do with their award-winning solution.

“What makes the challenge stand alone is that it seeks out technical yet tangible solutions.”

Stephan’s team designed an application that allows users of cloud-based accounting software to better manage the unforeseen risks of new health and safety legislation. The add-on, SafetyCheck, saves costs by automating some parts of the legal process and can be seamlessly integrated into MYOB’s Essentials.
At the national competition in Auckland, regional winners from universities across the country presented business plans to a panel of expert judges from leading accounting software provider MYOB, women-in-tech group SheSharp, and international software service Augen.

The regional Canterbury round of the competition is run each year in conjunction with the University of Canterbury’s Centre for Entrepreneurship.

UC Centre for Entrepreneurship Incubator Manager Michelle Panzer says the challenge reveals students who understand the issues that businesses face and can use today’s technologies to create solutions.
“It’s essential we continue to encourage the fresh thinking of tomorrow,” says Ms Panzer.

“The MYOB IT Challenge encourages the kind of entrepreneurial mindset that will play a key role in shaping how Kiwis do business in the future.”

As well as receiving return flights, expenses and accommodation in Auckland to compete in the national finals, the top three teams also won a share of the $5,000 cash prize.

MYOB New Zealand General Manager Carolyn Luey says the challenge helps students turn theory into practice. She says the criteria for the challenge was left open to allow the students to explore new concepts. Any programming language and operating system could be used, and the final product could either standalone or integrate with an existing MYOB solution.

“We were looking for creative ideas that demonstrated innovative and disruptive thinking. It’s exciting seeing the next generation breaking out from existing trends and pushing boundaries. Teams GYOB and SafetyCheck did a great job and Christchurch should be proud.’’

Each of the teams were judged on their business and marketing plans, prototype, design, and overall presentation, as well as a product that is intuitively easy to use and delivers real value to business owners. Teams GYOB and SafetyCheck’s solutions exceeded all criteria, she says.

“The IT Challenge helps encourage the next generation of technology students in their studies and it’s great to see teams from universities go head-to-head for a share in the prize pool and a leg-up in the IT world. It bodes well for New Zealand’s tech future.”

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