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2019 Competition & Awards

$250K Columbia Venture Competition 2019 - SIPA Deans' Public Policy Challenge Grant


In September 2018, thirteen semi-finalist teams were chosen in the sixth competition of the SIPA Dean’s Public Policy Challenge. Semifinalist teams participated in bootcamps including Prototyping, Financial Planning, Law and Startups and Effective Pitching. Teams were also provided support through funding and a team of Advisors. In January 2019, seven finalist teams were selected to further refine and develop their projects. Winners of the sixth round of competition were announced in April 2019. 


Students: Nausher Khan, Clare Tessler, Laura Barrera Vera, Nicholas Kho

The Project Danso team is developing a smartphone based medical device to digitize the anthropometric measurement process of infants and children in order to instantly derive their nutritional status. This technology will improve measurement accuracy, personnel efficiency and reduce the public health expenditure. In addition, it aims to integrate with existing health information management systems to provide real-time data analytics and generate localized nutritional profiles, which can be used to target interventions and aid more effectively.

Students: Jessica Arnold, Alonso Flores, Nigora Isamiddinova, Ji Qi, Nitasha Nair

Data Analytics for Sustainable Herding (DASH) aims to map and analyze the changes in migration patterns, seasonality, and urban and agricultural development using data from satellites, mobile telecommunications, and GPS- enabled systems. In addition, DASH will produce a near real-time forecasting model using big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to map the changes in climate and access to natural resources like water or grazing land to then anticipate areas of potential violent conflict between farmers and pastoralists in the Sahel.


Students: Diego Folly de Andrade, Jennifer Jacobowitz Rae, Rodrigo Octavio Pereira e Ferreira, Felipe Rocha

CitiZap is an Artificial Intelligence(AI)-based virtual assistant that connects people with public agencies in their place of residence. To citizens, it means a free, fast and reliable single point of contact to request and monitor services from city, state or federal agencies and other public service providers (such as utility companies). To these providers, it represents an automated and streamlined way to receive and manage citizens’ requests, inquiries and complaints optimizing information flow and reducing bureaucracy. At a higher level, CitiZap promotes government accountability and empowers data-driven decisions such as budget planning and resource allocation.


Students: Thomas DeMaio, Julie Tumasz, Daniel Aho, Gregory Francois

Design Xchange matches volunteer designers with social enterprises in developing countries to build capacity in digital media marketing and visual storytelling. Designers based in New York City will participate in an overseas design experience emphasizing on collaborative workshops and cultural exchanges with the local NGO and in-country designers. By bridging the digital divide, this new network of designers will provide social enterprises the means to effectively promote their mission to their local and international audiences.


ConCensus, is committed to strategically using data to educate, empower, and mobilize Americans to exercise their right to vote and their right to be well represented in our governing bodies, regardless of their socioeconomic, race, gender, or ideological backgrounds. This project will layer data in an accessible and socially-conscious way to deepen our understanding at the precinct level. It will synthesize data into an interactive civic engagement tool, in the form of a map, to empower the voter to better assess their changing environments and their right to democratic representation, which is essential for demanding targeted public policies that benefit historically underrepresented clusters of our society. From grassroots organizers, to policy makers, political analysts, and social scientist alike, we want to leverage data in a user-friendly way, to mirror the changing nature of our country and prompt action.

Students: Andrés Chong-Qui Torres, Jewel Valentine Conrad, Olivia Camille Haas, Aliya Bhatia


Law of the Land seeks to foster legal-literacy among people by empowering them with intelligible and timely information on relevant laws in a region. With the objective of making dense legislation more accessible, comprehensible and available to citizens, Law of the Land will be proactive and interactive mobile based platform enabling legal and procedural awareness among the users.

Students: Akshara Baru, Urmi Ramchandani, Vasanth Ram, Raghuveer Dinavahi, Soura Sarkar


Morayo provides an open technology platform that provides universal identity and financial resources for refugees. It provides basic identity information, financial profiling tools, business development tools, banking services, investment options and insurance resources, through an easy to use application that can be accessed using a mobile phone or the web. Our idea brings together the fight for refugee rights with business development tools in an interactive, easy to use to platform that incorporates API technology to provide refugee business with the resources and tools needed to run a sustainable business.

Students: Theotis Sharpe, Devina Srivastava, Alexander Dow Febres-Cordero, Shamira Lukomwa, Ashalyn P. Hardy


BTM Solutions is the economic gamechanger of sustainable mobility. Through a digital service, BTM faces the infrastructure limitation of energy supply by leveraging the use of electric vehicle (EV) batteries. BTM provides a new reliability element that reduces energy grid stress, and also, it offers an economic incentive to EV owners. We combine technology, business, and policy to deliver a service that will revolutionize the energy market.

Students: Lara Younes, Camilo Poppe de Figuei  Muñoz, Srujan Routhu, Gabriel Guggisberg


ILAW is a one-stop solution for youth living in urban slums in Manila to find the pathway that best fits their needs towards better livelihoods. Through web and mobile-based applications, youth can access curated internship and job opportunities, develop skills that are in demand, or explore a new venture. By bridging the information gap, ILAW will be able to add both social and economic value to the lives of urban youth staying in slums.

Students: Fernando Armendaris Puente, Natasha Goel, Jimena Vallejos


Project Peach is a non-profit initiative that aims to establish an online platform to rate domestic work employment agencies in Hong Kong, so as to facilitate communication between migrant domestic workers who seek to renew contracts or locate new employers. Through this platform, we hope to provide assistance to foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong in terms of (1) identification of suitable employment agencies and (2) promotion of information exchange about agencies amongst domestic workers. Ultimately, we hope that this initiative would be a positive step forward in addressing the “lemon market problem” and resolving the problem of labor exploitation of migrant domestic workers.

Students: Ryosuke Takemura,  Pricilla Tay, Sarah AlZaabi


SVB Intest aims to create a decentralized investment Platform as a Service (PaaS) utilizing digital tokens structured as bonds or other fixed income investment instruments to connect socio-environmentally conscious investors with like minded investment projects.

Students: Harry (Shichao) Hou, Armando Hechavarria, Dongxin (Kevin) Yang, Mingzhao (Rick) Zhu, Hironobu Mita


Tan(sun)ia aims to build, promote and distribute small-scale Solar-Home-System in off-grid, rural Tanzania. Portable, solar-powered batteries transform sunlight into energy to power cell phones, household lights, televisions, and other small household appliances. Through overlaying geographic data of energy demand, smartphone and mobile finance access, Tan(sun)nia will locate customers with both the highest need and highest potential for conversion, and solve three critical pain points of the industry: customer acquisition, smartphone access, and transaction costs.

Students: Jingxin (Cindy) Zhang, Brice Lee, Xinli Guo, Ryan Ballard, Samir Jagdish


TIE is an online educational platform and app that provides didactic material aligned to the Peruvian school curriculum. It is oriented to students who require reinforcement or seek advanced levels of learning. Additionally, it will serve to connect parents and teachers, so that they can achieve common learning goals for students. TIE seeks to reduce the Peruvian educational gap in primary and secondary school, which has almost a 3-year delay in contrast to the average for OECD countries.

Students: Luigi Burtron Calderon, Lizbeth Tinoco Esquivel, Fatima Uriarte Caceres