One Billion Lives, a social impact challenge from German software giant SAP, is dauntingly ambitious: Improving the lives of a billion people by 2020 by having staffers ideate socially-minded startups using tech.
The company, which has its North American HQ in Newtown Square, Pa., held the North American finals last Thursday, where two Toronto-based employees took the regional championship with their startup: Rapid Disaster Response.
Led by product manager Drew Birtwistle and software developer Tony Li, the pitch from Rapid Disaster Response is creating an enriched geospatial application that improves analysis during natural disaster response. Through data analysis, the system can help resources get to where they’re most needed.
“The Haiti earthquake disaster demonstrated that although there was a significant outpouring of international relief aid, the people of Haiti weren’t getting the help they needed, even years later,” Birtwistle said in an email. “And it’s not a problem just isolated to one disaster, but virtually all scenarios that require large-scale relief efforts. We wanted to help solve that problem, and through the SAP One Billion Lives program we were able to dig in and begin our journey to a viable solution.”
The 1BL competition was born in the company’s Asia Pacific-Japan division. The next move for the Birtwistle and Li’s venture is joining the SAP.iO venture studio accelerator bootcamp, where they will work alongside 10 teams from SAP’s various regions to develop their venture and pitch for incubation and investment from SAP.iO.
“The 1BL experience was eye opening. We had our idea challenged over and over again by a series of experienced mentors within SAP,” Birtwistle said. “Ultimately, that forced us to explore every corner of the problem and get a much firmer grip on what we needed to solve, and how to go about it.”
SAP employs some 3,000 staffers in its Delaware County headquarters. In December, the company opened a 3,000-square-foot R&D hub called Co-Innovation Lab (COIL), where it looks to develop Internet of Things and big-data analytics solutions.
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