Career & Education

Mandeville-based university bags International Business Model Competition

Sunday, May 20, 2018

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MAN DEVILLE, Jamaica — Northern Caribbean University (NCU) beat a field of 5,000 competitors from 500 universities in 30 countries across the world to win the 2018 International Business Model Competition (IBMC) in Utah, USA, a week ago.

They were awarded the “travelling” trophy along with a cash prize of US$30,000 at the event May 10 and 11 event.

Eco-Structures, representing The University of The West Indies (The UWI) was awarded second place and received a cash prize of US$20,000.

The international win is a first for NCU, in spite of having dominated the local leg of the competition, National Business Model Competition (NBMC) since its inception, with four consecutive wins. This year, the NCU teams finished third and fourth locally.

Called Beasc (pronounced “Base”) Tech, the NCU team designed a technological device to help farmers fight the war against the ravaging Beet Armyworm which is demolishing hundreds of acres of farms, primarily in St Elizabeth. The pest, and its relative the Fall Armyworm, are also threatening food security in countries such as: Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, and the southern states in USA.

The device, also called Beasc Tech, uses a pheromone receptor that traps the Beet Armyworm at the moth stage and uses high voltage electricity to kill it. It incorporates the use of solar energy and is an entire smart farm. The system uses sensors to:

• detect the threat levels of the pest on individual properties;

• allow farmers to remotely access their farms, thus preventing occurrences of praedial larceny using motion detection;

• allows farmers to collect geo-data, so they can check rainfall levels, humidity, soil type, etc.

According to information submitted as part of the competiton, Beasc Tech is a completely integrated approach to pest management which can be customised to attract specific moths so that it does not destroy the insect eco-system but targets specific pests.

“It was a sobering feeling knowing that we, from a small country and university, can excel at this level,” said team pitcher, Lancelot Riley. “It was a long process with lots of challenges, but with God's guidance we were able to come through and win.”

Riley disclosed that the team plans to move to commercialisation.

“The broader vision is to totally automate farming so that developing countries can become more competitive on the global market,” he said.

The other members of the Beasc Tech team are Jermaine Smith, Bescekia Nembhard and Amina Muhammad.

Team coach and executive director of the Morris Entrepreneurship Centre, which provides business support services to micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises in central Jamaica, Hazel Wright O'Connor called the win “absolutely awesome and well deserved”.

“What is more important to me is the magnitude of the problem that this project aims to solve. Our farmers need the help and support from this project,” she said.

For NCU President Dr Lincoln Edwards, the NCU win, coupled with The UWI's second place, highlights the outstanding nature of Jamaican talent.

“It is impressive that the top two spots were won by Jamaican teams, with second place going to the team from The University of the West Indies. All Jamaicans can feel a sense of pride in this achievement by our students. This victory underscores the fact that our students are bright, creative, and innovative, with the ability to compete with students anywhere,” he remarked.

Five teams from Jamaica competed at the IBMC.

The NBMC and the IBMC are designed to encourage and promote creative and innovative thinking among university students, and to foster the growth of the entrepreneurial industry.

Locally, the initiative is supported by the Development Bank of Jamaica and its partners, including International Development Bank, Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Musson Foundation, Restaurants Associates, PanJam Investment, Sagicor Group, GK Capital Management, Scotiabank Jamaica, PetroCaribe Development Fund, and NCB Foundation.

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