Students’ inventions show lots of potential.
With the support of Mona Keijzer, Netherlands Secretary of State for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, the first ever PA Raspberry Pi Awards in the Netherlands has turned into a dazzling innovation fest in the Johan Cruijff Arena. PA Consulting, the innovation and transformation consultancy, organised the competition in cooperation with House of Digital for students aged 12 to 22. Students were challenged to create ingenious devices that improve wellbeing based on Raspberry Pi microcomputers.
A panel of leading judges chose winners for four awards. A smart medication carrousel invented by a team from Amsterdam’s Bredero Mavo High School won the Most Achievable category. Dionaea, an indoor plant that grows without human interference, won the team from MBO College Amstelland the Most Creative award. The team from MBO College Zuidoost received the Most Impactful prize for Pi-Care, a digital system for organising activities in care homes. And the Encouragement Award went to the youngest participating team, whose members’ average age was just 12 and a half years.
“We need talents such as yourselves,” said Secretary of State Mona Keijzer. “The golden hands who know how to create technical and digital solutions that make life better, safer and healthier.”
The tension was high in the Johan Cruijff Arena. Fourteen teams of ingenious students were competing for four trophies in the finale of the first ever Dutch PA Raspberry Pi Competition. The battle had started in September 2018, spurring ingenuity and cooperation to create some amazing inventions. Teams of schools were challenged to invent something using the Raspberry Pi – a credit card-sized computer – that would improve wellbeing. In the past few months, young people from the age of 12 have pushed themselves to invent devices that are both creative and relevant to society. Get a taste of the day in this video (spoken in Dutch).
It’s a competition PA Consulting has successfully run in the United Kingdom for the last seven years, but 2019 marks the first Netherlands competition, hosted together with House of Digital. Mark Griep, head of PA in the Netherlands, said: “Innovation should be at the heart of the next generation of students. I am extremely impressed by today’s inventions, many of which I would like to invest in myself. The inventions, made with a small and cheap computer, are only possible thanks to strong team spirit and creative thinking.” He was pleased to see students have learnt that innovation is not just about technology. “Creating a diverse team that works together is just as important. Hopefully you will be inspired to continue with innovation,” he told us. “After a successful first competition, we can’t wait to start next year’s edition.”
Netherlands Secretary of State for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, Mona Keijzer, said: “I warmly support this competition. There will be jobs in the future that we do not know of today. Technical and digital skills cannot be missed. Therefore, it is important you develop these skills early on. The demand for technical school leavers is growing. In the past few years, more than 20,000 job openings in the technical sectors have not been filled. This will only increase, making this the profession of the future. We need talents such as yourselves. Those golden hands who know how to create technical and digital solutions that make life better, safer and healthier.”
After congratulatory remarks from Ms Keijzer, the judges announced the winners. The panel, which included Perry van der Weyden (Chief Innovation Officer, Rijkswaterstaat), Peter Strikwerda (Head of Innovation, APG), Finbar Hage (Head of Data and Analytics, Rabobank), Ger Baron (Chief Technology Officer, Gemeente Amsterdam), Rian van Heur (Content Director, AG Connect), Jaap van Zessen (Head of Digital, Algemeen Dagblad), Ronald Wilcke (Executive Vice-Chairman, ROC Amsterdam Flevoland), Ton Paffen (Programme Director, House of Digital) and Willem van Asperen (Digital Expert, PA Consulting), judged the 14 inventions across three categories: Most Impactful, Most Creative and Most Achievable.
The judges gave the Most Achievable award to the team from Amsterdam’s Bredero Mavo High School. They created a medication carrousel that helps elderly people take pills on time called Medicare.
“The execution, presentation and design are impressive. This invention has an enormous potential market,” said judge Ger Baron, Chief Technology Officer at Gemeente Amsterdam.
The team of 14-year-olds was thrilled: “We worked extremely hard for this. Carers only need to fill the medication carrousel once a week. When it’s time to take medication, the pills fall into a little basket. If the basket is not picked up, there will be a sound signal. This carrousel will relieve the carer and ensure medication is taken on time.”
The team from MBO College Amstelland in Amstelveen won Most Creative for their Dionaea, a houseplant that can survive with almost no human intervention.
Judge Peter Strikwerda, Head of Innovation at APG, said: “It’s a complex idea with a great execution.”
The team explained: “By feeding the fish in the aquarium, several processes and sensors ensure the plant on top will continue to grow. This helps people who are not able to take care of plants, due to illness, old age or being away a lot”.
Students from MBO College Zuidoost in Amsterdam won the Most Impactful award for a system of digital devices that can replace traditional activity planners in care homes.
“We were immediately convinced”, said Finbar Hage, Head of Data and Analytics at Rabobank. “When you go to health providers to assess their challenges and you are able to come up with an invention that both relieves care providers and supports their clients, you deserve all credit.”
The students explained: “With the Pi-Bear, Pi-Watch and Pi-Hub, clients are notified which day activities will take place using symbols they already know. This digitisation replaces the paper calendar and is more fun too. All is synchronised in a system that is easy to use for clients and care providers. It was a great project in which we stimulated each other, cooperated and learned a lot.”
Finally, the judges gave an encouragement award to the youngest participating team, Bredero Mavo High School, Amsterdam, whose average age was just 12 and a half. They created a system that raises a warning when a situation becomes critical for a child or pet left in a car.
“We hope to see you next year, because we are already too impressed by the inventions you’ve made,” said the judges.
“We would like to promote this invention with car manufacturers,” the youngest participant stated.
Pictures by Pim Ras