Entrepreneurial UC students tackle IT business challenge

27 June 2017

Health and safety management software and an online innovation portal are two of the ideas developed in five days by University of Canterbury students to make life easier for small to medium-sized businesses.

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    SafetyCheck, one of two teams representing UC at nationals from the University of Canterbury, includes (left to right): Daniel Chan, Hugh Baird, Stephan Hofmann and Angus Schuler.

Health and safety management software and an online innovation portal are two of the ideas developed in five days by University of Canterbury students to make life easier for small to medium-sized businesses.

These winning concepts formed part of the Christchurch-leg of the National MYOB IT Challenge that gives teams of students five days to develop a technology solution to a real-world business problem.

At the local competition in Christchurch, student teams from the University of Canterbury (UC) presented solutions and business plans to a panel of expert judges from the UC Centre for Entrepreneurship as well as leading accounting software provider MYOB.

Christchurch regional co-winners SafetyCheck pitched health and safety management software to further enhance cloud-based accounting, while Uplink designed an online innovation portal that allows users to share new ideas with each other.

SafetyCheck team member Stephan Hofmann is studying toward a Bachelor of Commerce at UC and says the MYOB IT Challenge is an exciting way to apply what they have learned in class to a real-life situation.

"It was great to learn how to work as a team and think of innovative ideas. I even improved my coding skills.”

He says it’s a thrill competing with other young innovators, especially with such a short timeframe on offer.

“What makes the challenge stand alone is that it seeks out technical yet tangible solutions.”

Stephan’s team designed an application that allows users of cloud-based accounting software to better manage the unforeseen risks of new health and safety legislation. The add-on, SafetyCheck, saves costs by automating some parts of the legal process and can be seamlessly integrated into MYOB’s Essentials.

MYOB New Zealand General Manager Carolyn Luey says the challenge helps students turn theory into practice. The criteria for the challenge was deliberately left open to allow the students the freedom to explore new concepts, she says. Any programming language and operating system could be used, and the final product could either standalone or integrate with an existing MYOB solution.

“We were looking for creative ideas that demonstrated innovative and disruptive thinking,” says Ms Luey.

“We wanted to see the trends, ideas in design and development come through in the entries, with products that are intuitively easy to use and deliver real value to business owners. Teams SafetyCheck and Uplink ticked all those boxes.

“The IT Challenge encourages young minds in their technology studies and it’s great to see how smart these students are. It bodes well for New Zealand’s tech future.”

Incubator Manager of the UC Centre for Entrepreneurship Michelle Panzer was impressed with the calibre of teams that competed at the Regional Canterbury round of the MYOB IT Challenge.

“The two winning teams showed real promise, and I’ve been incredibly impressed with the progress they have made in the lead up to Nationals. We’re really excited to see how they go at Nationals, and believe they have a real chance at standing out.”

The MYOB IT Challenge culminates in a national final in Auckland at the beginning of July where the top teams from each university will go head-to-head for a share in the $5,000 prize pool and a leg-up in the IT world. 

For further information please contact:

Margaret Agnew, Senior External Relations Advisor, University of Canterbury
Phone: +64 3 369 3631 | Mobile: +64 275 030 168margaret.agnew@canterbury.ac.nz
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