| Danial Norjidi |
WINNERS of the Brunei Water Hackathon were awarded their prizes yesterday at the iCentre during the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB)’s celebration of Innovation Day.
Present to handover the prizes was Dato Paduka Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong, Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Chairman of the BEDB as the guest of honour.
In the public category, Chen Chung Seen took home first prize of B$7,000 for his invention, the ‘Water Leakage Detector’. In the Institute of Higher Learning Category, Team ITB won the B$4,000 first prize for their ‘Smart Shower’, while the consolation prize of B$500 in the same category went to Team Hope from UBD for their ‘Smart Home Water System’. Finally, the 6th Form Category was won by Jerudong International School for its submission of a ‘Cloud Cloner’, a prototype three-step system creating safe drinking water.
In his welcoming remarks, Dr Haji Abdul Manaf bin Haji Metussin, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office cum Chief Executive Officer of the BEDB said, “The Brunei Hackathon was implemented to serve as a platform for the creation of new innovative solutions by gathering passionate, creative and determined individuals from multi-disciplinary backgrounds to solve identified challenges to existing problems.
“Participants are encouraged to create innovative solutions that not only cater for Brunei Darussalam but that can also address existing global problems,” he said. “This year, the Brunei Hackathon issued challenges surrounding water, which I understand Brunei Darussalam stands as the highest water consumer in the region.”
Yesterday’s proceedings also saw the guest of honour giving a speech, where he quoted His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s titah from the Knowledge Convention 2014, in which His Majesty highlighted that the government will support scientists and technologists and give them adequate facilities to continue with their research and development.
“His Majesty stated that, as a society, we are all aware that science and technology have become a benchmark for quality of life, which is evident in the use of science and technology for the country’s national development and the implementation of infrastructure developments,” said Dato Paduka Awang Haji Ali.
He highlighted that, under the BEDB, pipelines are continuously being built to enable the creation of new and innovative science and technology-based start-ups and entrepreneurs. The Brunei Hackathon, he said, is one such pipeline which is a problem-solving initiative aimed at bringing together different talents to solve national and everyday problems through the creation of working prototypes for commercialisation.
“Hackathons are fast becoming vital tools in churning out innovation. Companies such as Facebook, Google and Apple have actively organised hackathons to create new and better solutions that can add value to their products and services.”
He applauded the participants who completed the hackathon’s first two stages of concept design and prototype development for their eagerness to continue their ideas, efforts and hard work into developing solutions for Brunei’s high water consumption problem.
“I encourage the teams to pursue the commercialisation of your prototypes and persevere to market them not just locally, but regionally and internationally as well,” he said. “This is to ensure that the ideas and concepts that you have put forward in the Brunei Hackathon do not go to waste but can actually add value to not only individuals but the nation and the world at large.”
He touched on the success stories of other start-ups around the world founded through competitions like the hackathon, and encouraged the participants to “learn from these success stories and follow their footsteps by teaming with individuals with complementary skills and enhancing your prototypes and technologies with a goal to commercialise them in order to become your own success story and Brunei’s success story.”
“I urged all teams to think beyond the Brunei Hackathon as a one-off event and strive to ensure ideas and concepts are pursued to their full potential instead of stopped and stored halfway,” he added.
The Brunei Water Hackathon began in February 2014, and had participants compete to create the best solution for three challenges, namely: reducing high water consumption, developing an alternative water source; and providing alternative methods of transporting or storing water.
The first stage of this Hackathon ended after a series of mentorship sessions and talks given by industrial experts, with the participants submitting original concepts. These concept designs went through meticulous evaluation and judging, and three of the best concept designs were awarded a Prototype Grant on September 16 to kick start their respective projects.
Stage two consisted of eight weeks of fabrication, assembling and testing of each team’s respective design, bringing them to reality, which resulted in yesterday’s awards ceremony.