John Keells X announces winners of the Open Innovation Challenge

John Keells X, an open innovation challenge conceptualized by John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH), announced the winners of its first Open Innovation Challenge on Wednesday, 2 November at the Atrium, Cinnamon Grand. The winning team, Jendo received a Rs 2 Million cash prize while the runner up, Markify received Rs 1 Million. These winners received the reward with no strings attached.

Co-founded by Keerthi Kodithuwakku, Isuru Rajakaruna and Charith Vithanage, Jendo will provide new technology to monitor peripheral cardiovascular systems with research conducted under the supervision of senior medical professors. Runner up Markify, a voice controlled, SAAS analytics platform with data ingestion capabilities is spearheaded by Sohan Dharmaraja.

The four month Open Innovation Challenge was launched in June 2016 by JKH to encourage innovators with imagination and a strong design ethic to take the next step in making a pipeline idea a reality. Via the competition, John Keells X called for individuals and teams to submit applications online. 148 applications were shortlisted to 10, followed by an Open Day where the teams were formally inducted to the competition. The ten teams were given a development window of 60 days; during this time, they were also given the opportunity to meet and interact with their peers and to network with JKH leadership through a series of events.

John Keells X welcomed any idea that was both innovative and disruptive. The shortlisted applicants submitted minimum viable products or commercially launched businesses that were being further developed. Some ideas reimagined an existing model in a more efficient or useful format whilst some devised new solutions to meet a prevailing gap in the market.

Mr. Susantha Ratnayake, Chairman of John Keells Holdings PLC commenting on the Open Innovation Challenge said, “I would like to congratulate the winners and finalists of the inaugural John Keells X Open Innovation Challenge, and I thank all 148 teams that applied from Sri Lanka and overseas, for their enthusiastic participation in the program.” Mr. Ratnayake further commented,  “The JKH leadership is also encouraged by the pool of young entrepreneurial talent we witnessed during the four month engagement with John Keells X, and we look forward to continuing to support the Sri Lankan start-up eco system, by incentivizing and investing in the talented young entrepreneurs in the country.”

The demo was judged by a panel comprising of Dr Hans Wijesuriya, Group CEO – Dialog Axiata PLC, and Jonathan Alles, Managing Director and CEO of Hatton National Bank PLC alongside Ajit Gunewardene, Deputy Chairman, Ronnie Peiris, Group Finance Director, Krishan Balendra, President (Leisure Sector), Gihan Cooray, President (Corporate Finance & Retail Sector), and Ramesh Shanmuganathan, Group CIO/Executive Vice President from John Keells Holdings PLC.

The John Keells X Open Innovation Challenge is part of a digitization initiative by John Keells Holdings PLC, spearheaded by Chairman Susantha Ratnayake in a bid to create a conducive ecosystem in order for young entrepreneurs to thrive whilst encouraging businesses at JKH to engage in open innovation. The John Keells X open innovation challenge partnered with SLASSCOM, ICTA, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce as well as as their digital media partner.

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