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BioMatch app wins UEL’s ‘Mobile App Design Challenge’ sponsored by BlackRock UK

Computing For Business

Student entrepreneurs impress expert judging panel and peers 

A mobile phone app connecting users to medical support agencies has won a University of East London (UEL) ‘Dragon’s Den-style’ competition sponsored by asset management firm BlackRock.

‘BioMatch’ app, developed by a team of UEL first-year students, won first prize in the ‘Mobile App Design Challenge,’ receiving high commendations from the judging panel including Ian Grant, director of web tools and technologies at BlackRock in the UK.

Jake McMahon , a student on the new BSc Digital & Technology Solutions degree apprenticeship, together with Shakar Sobers, Mark Thomas and Josuha Button on the BSc Computer Science programme, will now get the chance to develop their app further. 

The idea is the brainchild of Shakar, 21, from Crystal Palace. 

“We met as a team with our own ideas, and after a lot of debate we decided this was the strongest proposal,” said Shakar. 

“I’ve got a passion for helping people, so developing an app that can help people with mental health problems, physical disabilities and other illnesses really appealed to me.”

The app allows users to sign up for free on their phone and build a profile detailing their disability or illness and the kind of help they need. 

The app gives them access to GPs, pharmacists, psychologists and people who have experienced various illnesses. 

Shakar said, “We wanted ordinary people to be able to sign up so they could provide support, via the app’s live chat feature, to people in need. It means they can share experiences and give some moral support.

He says that it has great potential to speed up the process for people seeking donors of a specific blood type but who are not listed on a blood donor register. 

Fellow team member, Joshua Button, 18, from New Zealand, says the app could be useful for student doctors and nurses. 

He said, “There are a lot of privacy issues we have to consider as we’re dealing with people’s medical conditions, but I think it could be useful for helping student doctors and nurses get hands-on practical experience.” 

Joshua said his market research found that there were a few apps on the market but nothing like BioMatch in terms of being user-friendly and the way it brings people and support services together in one place. 

“I really wanted this app to be focused on people, bringing them together to help each other,” he said. “With time, perhaps the more established medical charities could support the app, encouraging their members to use it and offer their services via the app.” 

Joshua, who works as a robotic mechatronics technician at the London Design and Engineering UTC school next door to UEL’s Docklands campus, says the experience was positive. 
“A year ago I never thought I’d be pitching a new app to a full lecture room of fellow students and specialists, but it was really good.”

The team will receive entrepreneurship mentoring from UEL’s Enterprise Team and Imitiaz Ahmed, CEO of Pinro, an east London-based web and app development start-up company.

Shakar, who works a retail manager, says he is looking forward to the mentoring support as he hopes to design an own app and set up his own business in the future. 

“I’ve always enjoyed coding, programming, and working with computers, so this will help me learn more about setting up my business. BlackRock also advertised their internship scheme and brought some of the graduate employees along, which was really inspiring, I’ll definitely be applying.”

The winners and other finalists have also been invited to BlackRock head office in London for a private tour by Ketan Patel, a vice-president at BlackRock in the UK.

The competition was organised by Dr Aaron Kans, a principal lecturer in computing at the School of Architecture, Computing and Engineering at UEL. 

He said, “The competition was a way of helping them make friends, think entrepreneurially and develop teamwork and presentation skills which are needed in the world of work.”