12 January 2022

Sheffield Startup team 'The Bridge' made the Europe regional finals for the IBM Call for Code Global Challenge.

Congratulations to a group of computer science students who made the European regional finals for the IBM Call for Code Global Challenge.

Group of students

The Call for Code initiative has been running for four years. It is the largest tech for good initiative of its kind. The world is facing unprecedented, interconnected challenges and IMB believe technology can help, whether that is through challenges, deployments, or open source development.  This competition is aligned with IBM’s initiative to invest $30 million over five years to use the full potential of technologies in order to protect the environment, save human lives and improve the future of the next generations.

The team, made up of four computer science students, all had a shared vision: bridging the gap between the Global North and South. Marvelous Jibogu, Ben Dawson, Bagha Charuduth, and Jameel Chagpar form one of two British finalist teams in the IBM Call for Code challenge 2021. Their solution, aptly called The Bridge, allows sellers living in the Global South to sell products to buyers in the Global North while cutting out the shipping process. Their solution has a positive impact on improving the quality of life for sellers living in the Global South, and at the same time helps combat climate change.

The team met as part of the Sheffield Startup - an annual event run within the Department of Computer Science with support from the Institute of Coding, Kollider and Barclays bank. Students from any discipline/subject are invited to join as well as recent graduates. The event aims to help develop entrepreneurship skills and the process of creating a Startup through a series of workshops, industry talks and workshops

What made you decide to enter the competition? 

We weren't actually planning to participate in the challenge from the start, however we were informed about the challenge from John McNamara, a master inventor (and visiting fellow in the department) who we met during the Sheffield Startup event. After spending so much time developing our startup during this event, we made the decision to enter the competition. With the help and guidance of Andrew Stratton and the industry mentors that we met, we were able to pivot and improve our original idea, which later became The Bridge.

Can you give us an overview of your idea? 

Our startup focuses on sustainability, recreating and selling products created by artisans in the Global South, whilst also improving the quality of life of those living in the area and reducing the carbon footprint when selling products between the Global North and South. 
The Bridge is a platform which allows buyers in the Global North to buy 3D-printed replicas of products produced by sellers in the Global South. By selling the sellers' creativity rather than their goods, the solution aims to reduce the carbon footprint of sending products while also economically empowering communities in the Global South.
 
What was the most challenging aspect? 
 
Time was definitely our most challenging aspect. After participating in Sheffield's StartUp event, we had two weeks to finalise our solution, complete an MVP (Most Viable Product), and create the documentation. While doing this, we had to pivot several times in order to make our platform viable and to meet the requirements of the Call for Code competition. This cut into our remaining time, and on top of that we had to learn how to use the IBM technologies and services.
 
What did you enjoy the most? 
 
Learning more about the skills we’d need to develop when running a startup, as well as learning more about the IBM ecosystem. We also got access to various workshops, made connections with industry mentors, and got hands-on practice with some useful services and technologies offered by IBM.
 
Any tips for other students wanting to do something similar?
 
Do not hesitate to participate in these kinds of activities and throw yourself into the deep end. Don’t worry about failure as the real reward of events like these is the skills you learn and what you take out of it! Plus it’s fun, and you get to network with like minded people!

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