FHNW among the winners of the European Youth Award Festival

A delegation of 18 FHNW students participated in the EYA Festival in Graz. The festival is the final event of the European Youth Award and took place from November 28 – December 1, 2018.

The theme of the festival was digital innovation and how it can foster social change and contribute to creating a better world. Prior to the final event in Graz, a jury selected 15 winning projects in categories such as Smart Learning, Connecting Cultures, Planet Friendly, Sustainable Economics, Managing Life, Open Innovation or Fostering Health. Students from all over Europe formed groups tasked with analysing and optimising one of these winning projects.

The different teams worked together remotely for weeks before finally meeting in person at the EYA Festival. During the first few days of the Festival, students joined different sessions and workshops, for example on Blockchain or Successful Concept Development. The festival gave students the opportunity to get to know local businesses in Graz or in Europe and learn more about their challenges. It was a great exchange not only for students but also for the local enterprises. They could gather new ideas for their businesses directly from the different perspectives in Europe.

Presentations and Awards

The big day finally arrived on Friday. The students’ groups had the opportunity to present their assigned project and their recommendations for the project in a poster session. Parallel to the international groups, there was a similar competition among local students, who were only assigned their projects a day prior to the poster session. A total of 30 groups presented their research, findings and proposals to jurors and attendees.

On Friday evening, all participants and representatives from the Council of Europe and European Commission gathered for the official gala event and award ceremony. The jury awarded four winning teams: best international student group, best local student group, best overall winning project in the mYouth category and best overall winning project.

Best international student project team: Blood Donor

Blood Donor was developed for the National Centre for Blood Transfusion in Kosovo. It is a combination of mobile and web app, which sends targeted push notifications to spread the word when blood is needed urgently.

The Blood Donor project team in action (Photo: EYA)

The winning student from the MSc International Management programme, Stephanie Pfister says that the Blood Donor project caught her attention immediately:

“In Kosovo there isn’t any blood transfusion center. This project provides the only way to cover and gather blood units from the local population without having to obtain expensive blood units from other countries. Therefore, this project is unique and has a great impact on the local society. Our group provided some extensions and improvements which can be implemented easily.”

Best overall winning project: Food+x

Food+x uses Blockchain technology to tackle an important social problem: food waste. This online platform strategically matches sellers and buyers of surplus food. It operates on a B2B basis and already involves 120 leading European retailers.

Carole Gerhard and her Food+x teammate (Photo: EYA)

Carole Gerhard, part-time student in the MSc International Management programme, works in the food industry and is well aware of the importance of food waste. She said that the application involves a complex and very technical bassis. However, they surely did provide a great solution for a very important topic and that is what convinced the judges to choose Food+x as the best overall project.

mYouth Overall Winner: Mtabe

Imagine a world with no Google to search, no Moodle to check, no WhatsApp group to ask. This is the reality for the majority of students in Tanzania and most places in Africa. Mtabe, overall winner in the mYouth category, uses artificial intelligence and SMS technology to change that. Secondary school students send their questions to Mtabe via SMS and receive the answer in a few seconds.

Ralph Halter expaining Mtabe during the poster session (Photo: EYA)

Ralph Halter who worked on this project thinks that the jury was convinced by the project’s cost-effectiveness and scalability:

“I will never forget how the founder of the project said that the cure for cancer could be in the mind of a young kid in Africa, with no access to education. Hopefully Mtabe will help unlock some of this potential.”

Congratulations to all the winners and winning projects. The next European Youth Festival will take place in November 2019.

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