Irish teenagers’ dementia app wins global Technovation grand prize

17 Aug 20201.85k Views

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Three Irish teenagers have won the grand prize at the Technovation World Summit for an app to help families affected by dementia.

Under the mentorship of Phase Innovate’s Evelyn Nomayo, the Irish team, Memory Haven, was named winner of the senior girls’ division at the Technovation World Summit. The team consists of Rachael Akano (15), Margaret Akano (17) and Joy Njekwe (17) and won for their efforts in building an app designed to help more than 500,000 people in Ireland whose families may have been impacted by dementia.

Based on research showing musical memories are relatively undamaged by the disease, the three girls built a music playlist in their app alongside healthcare features such as alerts, face and voice recognition. It also includes health checks to help patients with dementia, as well as those who take care of them.

A total of 5,400 students took part in the Technovation World Summit from 62 countries. The competition tasked them with building apps to help make a positive difference in the world, with the teams creating more than 1,500 apps.

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Memory Haven was the only team from the EU to qualify for the senior division of the competition and was up against four other international teams. These included New Zealand’s Eunomia app designed to encourage young people to learn about politics; the US’s RecycleRight to help prevent waste contamination and recycling; a global team’s Goal Shadowing app for children’s education affected by Covid-19; and a Brazil’s team Mappid app to help women and LGBTQ people safe.

Nomayo had entered a total of six Irish teams into the competition designed to help girls and families become leaders, creators and problem-solvers in STEM. Of those teams, four had made it to the semi-finals.

Speaking with Today FM, Njekwe said the project began at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition but that the driving force behind their decision to further develop the app was the fact Nomayo’s grandmother had passed away from dementia earlier this year.

Speaking of their time entering the competition, Akano said that for them it was “one of the most fun experiences we’ve ever had” despite having to develop the app remotely as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Colm Gorey is a senior journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

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