Dirk de Wit, Kiki Liu, and Charles Guo (left to right), winners of the Tech-to-Market Innovation Challenge
May 8, 2014

Students Win Tech-to-Market Innovation Challenge

Two Berkeley School of Information students were awarded the first-place prize this week in the Tech-to-Market Innovation Challenge. Kiki Liu and Dirk de Wit teamed up with business student Charles Guo and competed with other teams from across the Berkeley campus to develop a technology and business strategy to take advantage of the emerging LTE Direct standard.

LTE Direct provides mobile awareness and discovery, enabling mobile devices to have a continuous awareness of other devices and services in their vicinity; built for range and scale and minimal power impact, LTE Direct provides new business opportunities in a wide range of different fields.

In the Tech-to-Market Innovation Challenge, student teams developed innovative business ideas and use cases based on the LTE Direct standard, leveraging their own experience and backgrounds. The Tech-to-Market Innovation Challenge is sponsored by Orange Silicon Valley and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and organized by the Berkeley-Haas European Business Club.

Liu, de Wit, and Guo developed a system called “Connect Better” for retailers to solve the vexing problem of attracting new customers to their stores, while simultaneously providing valuable customer data to mobile operators. Because the LTE Direct protocol allows discovery of mobile devices in the immediate vicinity, retailers can use it to target promotions to nearby customers. “Retailers believe that they can get consumers to buy things once they are in the store,” according to one retail consultant. “What retailers want help in is getting consumers into their store in the first place.”

The three presented detailed use cases, with several potential business models that would demonstrate benefits to all three stakeholder groups: shoppers, retailers, and mobile phone carriers.

After the first round of competition, Liu, de Wit, and Guo were invited to present their project to a team of industry experts on Friday morning, alongside the other finalists; after all of the teams had presented, the panel of judges awarded the “Connect Better” project the $4,000 first-place prize.

Kiki Liu is a first-year MIMS student specializing in user experience and user interface design. She comes to the I School with several years of experience in product design and delivery, and holds a US patent on a technique for improving search engine results.

Dirk de Wit is a visiting student at the School of Information and an M.Sc. student at the Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands. Charles Guo is an MBA student at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

Last updated:

October 4, 2016