A team of four Kenyan university students are the winners of the 2021 Microsoft’s Imagine Cup, an annual global student technology challenge. The four students, Khushi Gupta, Jeet Gohil, Dharmik Karania and Abdihamid Ali are fourth-year students of the United States International University (USIU) – Africa, undertaking a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science.

Their winning project is an IoT-based infant monitoring solution, REWEBA (Remote Well Baby), which remotely analyzes infant parameters during post-natal screening and serves as an early warning intervention system. The team won Ksh. 8 million ($75,000), a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and a Ksh. 5.35 million ($50,000 ) Microsoft Azure Grant.

The 19th edition of the competition brought together thousands of students from 163 countries across the globe reimagining tech solutions to impact their communities. Projects were submitted in four social good categories including Earth, Education, Healthcare, and Lifestyle. The competition then advanced through Online Semi-finals and World Finals rounds. As winners of each category, the top four teams were selected to pitch their projects at the World Championship during Microsoft Build for the chance to take home the 2021 trophy.

Team REWEBA emerged winners from the top four teams selected out of 40 World Finalists that presented their projects at the World Finals. The other three top teams were Protag from New Zealand, Hand-On Labs from the United States and Threeotech from Thailand.

“It is absolutely gratifying that a Kenyan team would come up with a solution that could compete on a world scale and even emerge as winners. The Imagine Cup is a chance to make something that matters to you and develop your skills as part of the journey. We have the tools, resources, learning materials, and mentors to help you bring your project to life,” said Kendi Nderitu, Country Manager, Microsoft Kenya.

REWEBA is designed as an early warning system that digitally monitors babies’ growth and health parameters and sends them to doctors for timely intervention. It combines Machine Learning, IoT, Analytics, and more to provide innovative functionalities for infant screening, mimicking the process of post-natal screening in a hospital.

Commenting on the win, Team member, Jeet Gohil, said, “There’s a lot of technologies that we came to discover {through building our project}, for example Azure DevOps, IoT, and Functions. We learned a lot about how to build IoT systems.”

“What a great honour and privilege for our students to be recognized at such a global platform. The future is indeed digital and I’m proud to see our students use their academic exposure to build an application that with immensely support our country to reduce infant mortality and at the same time, scale it to a global level”, said Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, Vice Chancellor and Professor of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the USIU-Africa.

Speaking on their future plans, Team REWEBA hopes to enhance and scale their project to include additional infants screening factors and a postnatal screening device for mothers. The team would like to launch a start-up in Kenya to enable even better access to healthcare services in marginalized areas.

When asked how winning the 2021 Imagine Cup will impact their project, the team responded, “The winning prize and the Azure grants will take our project up a notch, and we envision saving millions of babies’ lives all around Kenya. We plan to extend throughout Africa and India as well, as these are the countries where infant mortality is really high.”