Czech team X.GLU’s innovative solution for helping children with diabetes wins the $100,000 Imagine Cup grand prize

This year’s Imagine Cup World Finals saw 54 teams travel to Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, all fighting for a shot at the grand prize of $100,000, a mentoring session with CEO Satya Nadella, a $120,000 Azure Grant, and a trip to the company’s Build developer conference next year.

After intense rounds of presentations and demos, the winner has finally been revealed. Congratulations to the Czech Republic’s X.GLU, and their innovative solution to help young children cope with diabetes, marking the second year in a row that a European team has walked away as Imagine Cup champions.

The X.GLU team – consisting of Marek Novak, Tomas Pikous, and Barbara Suchanova – set out with an aim to combat one of the biggest medical challenges of the 21st century. With 415 million people with diabetes in the world today, and an estimated 642 million in 2040, they wanted to do something that could help people control the disease.

Currently, diabetes is a non-curable disease. The key for successful treatment (which consists of relieving its symptoms and slowing down progression), is the use of correct medication, along with the discipline to ensure that it’s taken correctly, and when required.

The nature of self-treatment – namely the testing of one’s own blood sugar levels and the administration of insulin – can be hard for some people, and especially young children – to routinely carry out. In addition, existing electronic blood sugar monitors can be bulky, costly, or prone to failure.

With these factors in mind, the X.GLU team’s winning idea was to patent a 4mm thin credit card-sized blood glucose meter which offers the flexibility of having a built-in battery, or using NFC to draw power from a user’s smartphone.
The smartphone itself offers full control over the device, helping save on hardware costs over traditional meter devices. There is also less chance of mechanical failure when compared to devices which physically connect to smartphones via headphone jacks or charging ports.

Unlike many existing meters, this solution will be powered by the cloud – specifically Microsoft Azure’s secure, scalable cloud solution. In this way, data can be stored with complete data privacy confidence in mind, and results can be accessed by family members or doctors, to keep an eye on a child’s progress.

Parents are also able to check that their child is sticking to their treatment schedule, and can even check on their last location, in the event of a hyper/hypoglycaemic attack.

As the success of treatment is very much dependant on a user’s discipline, the team have also introduced a gamification system to their app, offering rewards, points, and incentives to children who stick to their treatment schedule.

When asked what advice they would give to other aspiring startups in Europe, the team responded with:

“Having an idea is the first 1% of the success. Proof of concept is the next 1%. We think that launching an idea and to have a proof-of-concept is quite easy and a lot of people do it in our country. However, only a few will succeed. We see two main obstacles – lack of business knowledge and lack of knowledge of relevant laws and regulatory requirements.”

“First, developers shouldn’t do business and vice versa. We’ve got a separate business team in X.GLU because of this. Second, we would recommend all entrepreneurs to go “to the dark side“ – that means working for a large corporation for a few years. Watch how corporates do stuff, learn from them, then apply similar principles in your startup.”

Congratulations once again to the X.GLU team, and we wish them the very best with their project going forward.

More European success

Europe also had two other success stories in the competition, with Russia’s Evermind and Greece’s OsteoMentor teams joining X.GLU in the semi-finals.

Evermind, a team consisting of three students from Lomonosov Moscow State University, showed off a project called Soberider – a cloud service app which uses a smartphone camera and Microsoft’s Face API service to analyse a user’s eye movements to determine whether or they are under the influence of alcohol, and should therefore not drive.

The OsteoMentor team, made up of three undergraduates from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, created a holistic solution for people with osteoporosis, to help improve their quality of life.
Congratulations once again to all the finalist from around the world. Bring on Imagine Cup 2018!

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