Catalyst 2017

One of CISSA’s main objectives for 2017 was to address an issue that occurs with many hackathons, where teams don’t continue pursuing their ideas after the hackathon weekend is over.

We’ve seen this issue first hand with our annual hackathon CodeBrew. Although the energy levels post-hackathon are extremely high and students are excited at the possibility of continuing on, due to various reasons it doesn’t happen as often as we’d like.

CodeBrew has been running successfully for the past three years now, and we’ve differentiated it from others with our yearly themes tied to social causes. Catalyst was the next step for us to take things further and offer students the opportunity and platform to work on meaningful ideas to solve real issues facing our local communities.

This year, we were fortunate enough to partner up with the Mornington Peninsula Shire (MPS) and the University of Melbourne to offer students the unique opportunity of working with MPS’ local council members on the issues of:

  • Mental health amongst youths
  • Public transportation
  • Unaffordable housing

This offered students direct insight into the root of the problems and allowed them the opportunity to clear up any misconceptions they might’ve had diving into these issues.

The first day of the week-long program was spent in Mornington going through workshops on each of the issues. These workshops were given by UniMelb professors, Gil Tidhar and Dr. Greg Wadley.

The following two days were spent back on campus where teams had the chance to go through multiple iterations of their ideas and prototypes. We wanted this initiative to not be seen as a competition but instead a chance for teams to be open to sharing ideas with one another — at the end of the day, we’re all working towards a common goal of helping to address social issues.

We also had some amazing mentors give up their time over the two-day intensive weekend to help teams validate their ideas. Thank you so much to Michelle La from 300 Blankets, Alexandra Rushan from YBF, and Gil Tidhar and Dr. Gred Wadley again from UniMelb. After the two-day intensive wrapped up, the teams had the next couple of days to continue working on their solutions in time for the pitch night.

The pitch night served as a way for us to celebrate what the teams had come up with over the course of a week, as well as gave the chance for all teams to receive feedback on their work in order to continue improving their solutions.

Our first Catalyst event exceeded our expectations, but of course with any program or initiative we have to take into consideration all the responses we receive. We hope that with your help we can continue refining and building on it to make it even better!

What did each team get up to?

The six teams we had this year were an innovative bunch and we couldn’t be more pleased with the solutions they offered.

MyMornington

Members: Daniel Sutherland, Ling Chen, Rahul Sharma, Quoc Lieu, Yu Li

MyMornington is an augmented reality-based mobile platform designed to support the mental wellbeing of youths in the Mornington Peninsula through a series of virtual activities that will be located throughout the Peninsula, including construction, challenges and virtual pets.

WeLight

Members: William Mullins, My Nguyen, Vidya Sureshkumar, Humza Naseer, Adam Li

WeLight is an app that will serve as a smart virtual buddy to remind the user to stay positive and provide positive content using AI and machine learning technologies.

Equilibrium

Members: Bill Gao, Austin John, Keith Lee, Thomas Wang, Kriti Bhardwaj

Equilibrium is an online social platform where users are able to give verbal feedback to local event organisers in the Mornington area. By utilising voice recognition and natural language processing, Equilibrium is able to provide event organisers with far more powerful feedback as opposed to just text.

ChattyBotty

Members: Hazim Jumali, Karim Khairat, Whitney Zhao, Laura Schaufelberger, Martin David Valentino

ChattyBotty is a chatbot that starts a conversation with the user when they are experiencing depressive systems. By way of natural conversation, the chatbot aims to shift the user’s negative thought cycle and guide them towards a more grounded, positive state of mind.

ShireHouse

Members: Samantha Lai, Hui Min Yau, Dennis Wirya, Jezvin Cherry Kolady, Therrense Lua

ShireHouse is a platform that connects students in Mornington Peninsula to affordable housing in Rosebud and Frankston by substituting rental fees with chores.

Season

Member: Milan Modi, Bahriddin Abdiev, Junyuan Liu, Dongjuan Li

Season’s solution to the limited public transport for the elderly in the Mornington area is to introduce a reward mechanism (incentive system) into the existing Peninsula Transport Assist platform to get more volunteers involved.

Congratulations to MyMornington who are our first ever Catalyst winners!

What’s next?

With the Australian industry now realising it’s in desperate need for innovation and entrepreneurship to remain a competitive economic force in the South East Asia and Pacific region, I believe it’s within CISSA’s and the University of Melbourne’s best interest to encourage students to dabble in some form of entrepreneurial activities while they are still in the safe confounds of a university environment.

We are actively working with the University of Melbourne, and also our many partners and sponsors, to guide as many students as we possibly can post-Catalyst through our inaugural Hatchery program. Hatchery was born out of a desire to foster the team building, innovation and enthusiasm that we see at our hackathons (CodeBrew & Catalyst) and help students build real startups.

We’ve put together an amazing lineup of speakers for the rest of the semester. These speakers consist of people who have built (or are currently building) great startups. Hatchery is designed to put current students in front of the current industry leaders and to learn from the very best firsthand. Each week will follow on from the previous to help guide students through the journey.

To find out more information about what’s happening next and what some of the Catalyst teams will be getting up to over the coming few months, be sure to keep up to date on our social media channels.