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Winner creates buzz at Malaysia’s first NB-IoT hackathon

Steve Rogerson
May 3, 2018



A bee farming project was the winner of Malaysia’s first narrow-band IoT hackathon. The event, called Hack for Good, was a joint initiative between Ericsson, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Malaysian Communications & Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and Axiata Business Services, under the brand Xpand.
 
Hack for Good, which was launched in March 2018, encouraged university students and experienced professionals to build IoT products relevant to Malaysia. The hackathon focused on the following broad themes: IoT Saves Lives, IoT Sustains Water, Energy & Utilities, IoT Transforms Road Transportation, and IoT Modernises Agriculture.
 
Teams were tasked with creating NB-IoT services and innovations using Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator platform, or making existing products NB-IoT compatible. Prizes totalling RM51,000 and the opportunity to get onboarded to Ericsson Garage’s incubation programme are being awarded to the winning teams.
 
The hackathon was open to university and tertiary education students from all private and public institutions in Malaysia as well as professional developers, programmers, designers and engineers. Around 140 entries were received for this competition across both the student and professional category of entries. The top 11 ideas were shortlisted, and a pre-hack workshop was carried out to prepare the participants with the necessary skills for the prototype development.
 
The participants were given a month of hacking time to develop the prototype, using Celcom Malaysia’s NB-IoT network and Ericsson APIs. During the hacking period, periodic progress meetings with industry mentors were carried out.
 
Participating teams were evaluated based on originality, novelty and wow factor, usefulness and practicality, execution and quality of the prototype, business potential, and Ericsson technology and API adoption.
 
Team NBEE IoT emerged as the winning team in the professional category for its NB-IoT bee farming project. The winning team in the student category was ItVengers, for its project on real-time monitoring of paddy farms. NBEE IoT was declared as the overall hackathon winner.
 
“We are honoured to be selected as the winner of the hackathon and are excited to join the incubation programme by Ericsson and its partners,” said NBEE IoT team captain Shee Tze Jin. “Our ideas were inspired by the need to address current challenges faced by Malaysians in agriculture. Through this competition, we were able to learn from the experts in the industry and successfully bring our ideas to life. We definitely welcome the industry support to innovators like us through initiatives like this hackathon.”
 
Dato Mohd Ali Hanafiah Mohd Yunus, chief officer at MCMC, added: “The Digital Lifestyle Malaysia (DLM) promotes and accelerates the development and adoption of applications and services in the internet of things ecosystem. We look forward to working with the winners of this hackathon to further develop their prototype and would like them to utilise the MyMaker IoT Lab facility for this purpose. Events like the NB-IoT hackathon today will assist the country in its journey towards a smart digital nation.”
 
And Todd Ashton, head of Ericsson in Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, said: “We and our long term partners UTM and Axiata are very encouraged by the strong participation and the innovative projects that have emerged from the hackathon. We are delighted to be working with the best minds in the country, helping them translate their winning ideas into viable business solutions that will benefit the country.”
 
According to Wahid Omar, the vice chancellor of UTM, initiatives such as the hackathon serve as a great engagement platform between industry and academia to develop young talents in IoT technology.
 
“We are confident that this hackathon will strengthen the technology incubation capabilities at UTM as part of the Innovation Center for 5G partnership with Ericsson,” said Omar.
 
As a provider for large enterprises, Axiata Business Services is focused on the B2B and B2B2C segments across multiple industries.
 
“I am encouraged to see how so many ideas and concepts have emerged through this hackathon that will fulfil the addressable IoT demand in Malaysia,” said Asri Hassan Sabri, Axiara chief executive officer. “With the aim to improve social lives and economic scalability, participants had invested significant thoughts and efforts into creating unique NB-IoT products that will take the industry forward. Xpand is proud to have been part of this initiative with the best minds and industry leaders like Ericsson, UTM, MCMC and others sponsors here today. We hope to collaborate further with likeminded organisations in challenging our young innovators to pursue IoT solutions and the world of enterprise.”
 
Hack for Good is the first of its kind, end-to-end cellular IoT hackathon covering the complete ecosystem from device, connectivity, IoT platform to apps, to provide a opportunity to university students and professionals to build IoT based products and services relevant for Malaysia.