USIU-Africa students win Sh13m prize, a date with Microsoft boss Satya Nadella

What would you tell software giant Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella if he were to invite you for a business meeting?

Well, this is what four USIU-Africa students – Khushi Gupta, Jeet Gohil, Dharmik Karania and Abdihamid Ali – could be thinking about after winning the 19th edition of the annual Imagine Cup, and earning a mentorship session with the Microsoft boss.

Together they developed an IoT-based infant monitoring system, which remotely analyses newborns during post-natal screening and serves as an early warning intervention tool for mothers especially in marginalized communities.

For their innovation, the four won the grand prize of $75,000 (Kes 8,058,750), a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and a $50,000 (Kes 5,372,500) Microsoft Azure Grant. 

Their project, Remote Well Baby (REWEBA), is an early warning system that digitally monitors a babies’ growth and health and sends them to doctors for timely intervention.

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REWEBA system makes use of machine learning, IoT, analytics, and more to provide innovative functionalities for infant screening, mimicking the process of post-natal screening in a hospital. 

“Before putting together the project, the four of us had interned at a local hospital, where we saw first-hand the challenges that faced mothers, especially in terms of access to healthcare for newborn babies. This lack of healthcare access, compounded by the effects of the pandemic contributed to a high mortality rate,” team REWEBA said.

The development of the system was informed by the need to enable equal access to healthcare and preventing instances of infant mortality, noted Khushi Gupta.

The Imagine Cup, a tech contest that attracted thousands of students from 163 countries, challenges learners to innovate and along the way, sharpen their skills through access to tools, resources, learning materials, and mentors to help them turn dreams into reality.

Team REWEBA member Jeet Gohil said they learned a lot of technologies while building their project, for example, Azure DevOps, IoT systems, and functions.

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“Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest number of infant mortalities, highlighting the gap in healthcare services. REWEBA is the only remote healthcare solution that provides regular growth monitoring for infants from the comfort of the home, while also giving direct access to doctors for immediate intervention,” said Khushi Gupta.

The students plan to scale up their project to include additional infant screening functionalities and a postnatal screening device for mothers, and over time, launch the start-up to support and improve healthcare access in Kenya.

They also plan to roll out the project across Africa and India, which they note are some of the regions with some of the highest infant mortality rates.

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