Okayama University Start-Up Wins Grand Prize at Okayama Innovation Contest 2021!
December 01, 2021
The final stage of the "Okayama Innovation Contest (OIC)", a local competition that celebrates creative business plans, was held on November 27. MORI Mikiko from Okayama University's start-up company, Sonae Co., Ltd, won first place in the business category, as well as the overall grand prize. Additionally, Okayama University students YOSHIDA Yuya (Faculty of Engineering, fourth year) and NAGASHIMA Yoshiki (Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology, first year) won first place in the business plan category (university and college student division) and the special MASC prize, respectively. This year marks the fifth iteration of the contest, and it is the first time that a participant representing Okayama University won the overall OIC grand prize.
There was a total of 103 entries this year, and in addition to Okayama University students participating, President MAKINO Hirofumi also served as a judge for the high school student division.
●Business plan submitted by Ms. Mori, Sonae Co., Ltd: WeLoveBaby
The WeLoveBaby application allows users to digitize their medical records while maintaining the value and ease of use of the current Maternal and Child Health Handbook simply by taking a photo. The app also makes it possible to easily collect information that can be used to help prevent passing on genetic illnesses for up to three generations. In addition, the business plan describes how app users can advance through pregnancy, childbirth and the early stages of child-rearing while receiving various benefits thanks to the "WeLovePaper" function created in partnership with the local government and local businesses, which helps realize the goal of "community child-rearing".
Commenting on the award, Ms. Mori said, "To be honest, the moment when I was announced as the winner was the happiest moment of my life, apart from when my daughter was born. I have been a housewife for 10 years, but winning this prize made me feel that I still have something to contribute. I think that WeLoveBaby, which was created thanks to the efforts of the team at Sonae Co., Ltd, has given a real boost to "community child-rearing". Using the results of this competition as a stepping-stone, I would like to work towards the recovery of communities and the realization of a friendly society."
Sonae Co., Ltd is a start-up company launched by Okayama University, where founders MAKI Jota (assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Okayama University Hospital) and YAMASHITA Noriyuki (technical staff at the Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Center for Education in Medicine and Health Sciences) act as advisors.
The two commented, "After brushing up our business plan and technology, we hope that this project will be promoted from Okayama to the rest of Japan, and then from Japan to the rest of the world."
From next year, Kibichuo Town, which has been designated as a National Strategic Special Zone working towards the concept of a "super city", will provide support for mothers and children using the WeLoveBaby application, and it is expected that user growth will expand in the near future.
●Business plan submitted by Mr.Yoshida: Interview Picture Book
First in the industry! "Interview picture book" is a service that allows you to review your interviewing capabilities through a simulated interview. After receiving review scores from active personnel and AI, student users can quantify their interview capabilities and receive accurate feedback, as well as watch and analyze the interviews of other students going through the job-hunting process. The service also provides corporate users with the advantage of being able to scout students with good communication skills.
Upon receiving the award, Mr. Yoshida commented, "I am overjoyed to have won this award. Even if job applicants drop out of the interviewing process for their first-choice company, the current job-hunting system does not provide them with any feedback. As a result, applicants continue to perform badly at interviews without any knowledge of how to improve. I hope that I will be able to expand this service so that it can act as a guideline for students that feel uncertain as they navigate the job-hunting process."
●The business plan submitted by Mr. Nagashima: NoCode AI Platform "TSP"
"TechSword Platform" is a no-code Edge AI platform aimed at non-engineers that can be used by companies to facilitate an environment where anyone can develop AI and apply it to their business with little to no knowledge of machine learning or AI. The platform enables the wider use of AI technology with the vision of realizing an optimized society in the near future.
Mr. Nagashima is currently working on TechSword Co., Ltd. with MIYAMOTO Taiki, who won a prize at last year's contest.
* MASC Award: A special award sponsored by MASC (an aero and space industry cluster study group in Mizushima area of Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture).