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UCD student identified as 2014 Deloitte Top Technology Competition winner

2 April 2014: Wexford student’s winning idea ‘Image Intelligence’ would allow companies to identify and track images of products or logos online.

Deloitte, the leading business advisory firm, is pleased to announce that UCD student Aaron Byrne has won the 2014 Deloitte Top Technology Competition. Aaron’s winning submission, Image Intelligence, would allow companies to identify and track where images of their products or logos have appeared online and on social media channels through the use of image recognition technology.

Aaron, from Gorey in Wexford, is currently studying in UCD where he is participating in a structured PhD programme in Simulation Science. Prior to this he completed a Degree in Theoretical Physics and a Graduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Enterprise, also at UCD.

The concept of Image Intelligence reflects the ever increasing prevalence of visual imagery on the web and that semantic methods are no longer sufficient in gauging customer sentiment, understanding customer trends, detecting counterfeit products and services or measuring the effectiveness of an advertising campaign. The service offering would support a number of commercial activities including brand management and marketing analytics. Key customers for the service offering would be marketing, advertising and PR companies and departments. Aaron had also identified the potential to partner with traditional media monitoring agencies as an additional route to market.

How technology can solve a business problem is an important criteria of the competition. The technology concept behind Image Intelligence brings together a combination of existing technologies - a search algorithm for social media and the Internet and image recognition technology – to create a new service offering. The design of the service offering would be a cloud based worker role which would perform the search and analysis functions. This would be coupled to a user friendly interface which would display analysis of results and also a summary of the information that is retrieved.  The proposed revenue model is Software as a Service (SaaS) model, similar to traditional media clippings agencies whereby a standard monthly flat fee is charged in addition to a variable charge based on the number of images found.

Harry Goddard, Partner, Technology Integration, Deloitte and judging panel member said: “The finalists’ ideas in this year’s competition were all viable and the judging panel were extremely enthused about the quality of technology talent in Irish universities! Ultimately, the judging panel members felt that Aaron had considered how technology could be used to develop a new service offering that would deliver real value to a distinct target market. In addition to having a strong USP, we were also very impressed with the validity of the business model and the delivery models proposed.”

The annual Deloitte Top Technology Talent Competition, now in its fourth year, seeks innovative ideas from college students at all levels across Ireland on how technology can solve a business problem.  The students with the top submissions are invited to present their idea to a judging panel of technology industry experts, including Liz Caughey, Business Programme Manager, O2 Ireland. The winner of the 2014 Top Technology Talent Competition can choose either a €1,000 prize or four weeks of paid work experience in Deloitte’s technology consulting practice. This will enable the winner to further develop their idea if they so choose, or to gain valuable technology and business experience with Deloitte, one of Ireland’s leading business advisory firms.

Commenting on his win, Aaron Byrne commented: “I’m thrilled to have won the Top Technology Talent Competition! The competition was a great opportunity to take the time and really focus on my idea and how this could be progressed in a commercial sense. I found this process very worthwhile. My immediate plans are going to be to trial the technology in the real world and look into fundraising to bring the idea to the next stage.”

A shortlist of entrants was invited to Deloitte’s Dublin offices to attend a ‘Development Day’ hosted in the Deloitte Academy. This gave candidates the opportunity to receive training and insights from an experienced panel of speakers. Sessions included commercialisation advice from Paul Murray of Atlantic Bridge, presentation and pitch skills by Celine Mullins from ConfidentSpeak, and values and motivations in the workplace by Mary O’Reilly of Deloitte.  Finally, Philip Hayes, a previous winner of the competition and now an analyst in the technology consulting department of Deloitte shared his insights. Prior to the ‘Development Day’ students also worked with a mentor from Deloitte to assist them in preparing for the day and developing their idea.

Over 20 students attended the event. Following the development sessions, students delivered an elevator pitch on their competition entry idea. Based on their original submission and this elevator pitch four entries were selected to participate in the final of the competition.

Details on the competition can be found at www.deloitte.com/ie/toptech.

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