JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Two ground-breaking teams from Guy’s Hill High school in St. Catherine, and Campion College in St. Andrew, have tied for first place in this year’s Katalyxt Youth Innovators’ Competition.
  • The Guy’s Hill team shared the top prize for creating the product ‘Bridge Alarm’, which aims to alert motorists of rising water levels in the Bog Walk Gorge.
  • Speaking with JIS News following the announcement, the two top teams expressed elation at their placement in the competition.

Two ground-breaking teams from Guy’s Hill High school in St. Catherine, and Campion College in St. Andrew, have tied for first place in this year’s Katalyxt Youth Innovators’ Competition.

Third place went to Excelsior High School, while Central High placed fourth, and Lennon High School placed fifth.

The five schools headed a list of more than 20 institutions to walk away with the top prizes during the 4th staging of the competition held at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on May 14.

Kareem Marshall; Darien Francis; Raheem Henry; and Tajay Watson from Campion College were rewarded with a trophy and certificates for their business idea called ‘Xtra Desk’. As the name suggests, the invention is a small, portable table that can be attached to any surface to provide additional work space.

The Guy’s Hill team shared the top prize for creating the product ‘Bridge Alarm’, which aims to alert motorists of rising water levels in the Bog Walk Gorge.

The group, which consists of team members Akeem Brooks; Kymani Malvo; Johnnoy Barnett; and Shemar Gilbert, also copped the Sustainability Award for their ‘Energy Saving Chair’ idea.

Excelsior High received the third place trophy for their pumpkin ice-cream; Central High got the fourth place trophy for a skin care line of products using natural ingredients; and Lennon High finished fifth for their business idea, which involved toasted Calabash seeds.

Other sectional prizes included the Big Idea Award, which went to Waterford High School for their anti-praedial larceny device. Runners-up in this category were Kingston Technical High with a wave-powered machine.

Waterford High also received the Sustainability runner-up award for their solar-powered lighting system.

Speaking with JIS News following the announcement, the two top teams expressed elation at their placement in the competition.

“We were expecting to do really well, but a win is just way past our expectations. It feels good to know that you actually did something productive and especially on such a platform,” remarked Campion College student, Kareem.

His colleague, Raheem said the team came up with the idea for ‘Xtra Desk’, based on the fact that as a student they are always in need of additional work spaces to put their books, computers and other learning tools, when studying at home as well as in the classroom.

He pointed out, however, that the device can be used by anyone in any environment in need of extra space, such as in airports or at bus stations. It can also be used by business executives on the go, or disc jockeys (DJs) at a party, among other persons.

“It is designed to be used wherever you go and whenever you need it, as it can be attached to any surface,” advised Raheem.

Meanwhile, Guy’s Hill student, Akeem said the Bridge Alarm is aimed at saving lives. “We know that many times we hear about people losing their lives by attempting to pass over the Flat Bridge when it is flooded, so our product is to stop them from entering the Gorge when it is not safe to do so,” he told JIS News.

Akeem explained that the system consists of two switches, which are activated based on the rising levels of the Rio Cobre River.

The first switch is activated when water levels indicate that flooding is imminent. This will set off an alarm and flashing lights at several strategic points at the Greendale Entrance in Sligoville; and at the Bog Walk, and Spanish Town by-pass round-a-bouts.

The second switch indicates to those motorists already in the Gorge that they have 10 minutes to clear Flat Bridge before an automated safety barrier is dropped at both ends of the Gorge, preventing further access.

“All of this is triggered by the rising water levels and once the water level falls back to normal, the process will automatically reverse, so the lever will go back down allowing motorists access to the bridge,” Akeem explained.

The students said they came up with the idea for an automatic barrier to guard against human error, pointing out that persons may also put their lives at risk to set up a manual barrier in the event of a flood.

“This system requires low maintenance and will work once there is electricity and if there is no electricity, a back-up generator system will be at the plant to close the Gorge,” he informed.

The Youth Innovators’ Competition, which is organised by Katalyxt Jamaica, is geared at encouraging innovation, imagination, and entrepreneurship among third to sixth form high school students, in the areas of business, science, technology, and engineering.

The top three teams will be enabled through mentorship and coaching from Katalyxt’s team of experts, to further develop their products.

In the meantime, Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites congratulated this year’s entrants, noting that their creativity and skills in science and technology is commendable.

“I wish to impress upon you the seriousness of the ventures in which you have been engaged. There is a place for innovators, for creative persons in the labour markets of all types,” he advised.

Team Leader, Katalyxt, Winsome Minott, noted that all the products entered this year, have excellent potential.

She further noted Katalyxt’s objective is to encourage young persons to participate and develop an appetite for innovation.

Ms. Minott remarked that the competition seeks to invest in the entrepreneurial potential of Jamaican youths, while instilling in them, the necessary business insight and preparing them to be “movers and shakers of tomorrow’s business industries”.

“We want to create jobs. We want the students that we engage with to become job creators and not job seekers,” she stated.

Katalyxt Jamaica is a division of Mint Management and Finance Services Limited. Its role is to aid in the growth and development of small and medium enterprises in Jamaica.