Award winners of YiA 2020


Intermediate Innovator

Patience, Noah Ball, Aquinas College

Year 8 student Noah Ball developed a contactless pairing system for doctors and patients, allowing medical practices to be notified when patients had arrived for an appointment under lockdown conditions.

The system of having patients wait in their cars was, while necessary, was often confusing, with many practices resorting to having staff wait outside for arrivals. Noah researched the problem thoroughly, talking to medical practice staff and his GP mother for a patient arrival perspective, before developing an app-based notification system.

During the ideation phase, Noah recognised challenges with different patient types, particularly those elderly customers not proficient with app-based technologies. The solution was a text message sent at the allotted appointment time, requiring the patient to respond with a simple Y.

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with other people – particularly in the workshops when we were able to bounce ideas around and come up with a better solution,” says Noah. “Three brains were definitely better than one and the time slipped away far too quickly.”

Judges were impressed with Noah’s thorough research, his insights into the problem, validation of concept and end result micro perspective solution, allowing him to adapt and adjust the solution for different patients. At only 12 years old, Noah has many years ahead of him in this competition and is already tossing around a few ideas for his 2021 submission.

Junior Innovator

SOAP, Claire Ma, Aquinas College

Claire developed a platform based on a common problem she witnessed in her own neighbourhood – elderly people unable to leave their homes to shop. Her digital app solution was designed to connect shopping volunteers with those that needed the service.

The system was designed so that people were able to either use an app or phone a call centre (manned by volunteers also at home) to request the delivery service, which was then matched with volunteers in the same area.

Year 9 student Claire said the idea had come to her with the realisation that many of her elderly relatives and neighbours would be left helpless during the lockdown period unable to go out for supplies.

“I’m a community volunteer so I wanted part of my solution to also involve those members of the community who want to help,” said Claire. “I reached out to Grey Power and they suggested the phone service.

“I’d like to encourage other young people to enter the competition – it was incredibly rewarding, and I got a lot out of it. If you know someone thinking about entering, tell them to just go for it!”

Claire’s in-depth research impressed the judges – she spoke (from a distance) to many older people in her own neighbourhood, canvassing their opinions and ideas. While recognising the needs of other vulnerable groups, Claire focussed her solution specifically on the elderly, tailoring it to their needs and providing a technical solution to a striking social issue.

Senior Innovator

CheckD, Alaya Callinan, Otumoetai College

15-year-old Alaya looked to her own family to create a solution to a serious problem than many New Zealanders faced – obtaining medical reassurance for changing moles. Having already lost someone close to her to the deadly disease, she was well aware that her fair-skinned family were at greater risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers. Due to the lockdown though, family members were unable to attend medical appointments for skin check-ups.

Looking to leverage technology to enable a home-based checking system, Alaya went to great lengths to research both her problem and her solution. She contacted subject matter experts, including Mole Map and the Skin Dermatology Institute, as well as Haunt Digital to find out how these experts were responding to the issue before developing her solution.

“Everyone I contacted was really great. I contacted Mole Map NZ and then they put me in touch with the founder. I talked through my idea, how it would work, and we discussed what I needed to do. I’m so grateful for all their assistance – people just want to help when they see you have a genuine passion.”

Alaya has some great advice to other budding innovators. “Really consider the customer and every little detail. It matters what your products are made from – are they beneficial to the environment, is the material biodegradable, etc.”

Judges were impressed with Alaya’s critical thinking and understanding from a human perspective when assessing solutions, taking inspiration from what others were doing in the space, iterating her own ideas and accepting and acting on feedback. Her solution – a camera attached to a moveable check device connected to an app, taking an image, uploading data and creating a risk factor assessment.