Top business and STEM students apply emerging tech to address real-world issues at KPMG’s 17th global Ideation Challenge

New Delhi: As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drive the need for businesses to digitally transform, attracting the next generation of business and technology talent has never been more critical. According to KPMG’s recent 2020 CEO Outlook, as a result of COVID-19, CEOs of the world’s most influential companies have cited talent risk as one of the most significant challenges to growth.


To help attract the next wave of top talent, KPMG International hosted its 17th annual global KPMG Ideation Challenge (KIC) 2020 on Aug. 24-25, 2020. The hackathon-style competition, taking place virtually for the first time, gathered both STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and business students to help solve real-world business issues with AI and other emerging technology-based tools and solutions. KIC is the latest example of how KPMG is investing in technology, talent and innovation, helping students acquire tech and business acumen at a time when talent risk is a critical issue for businesses.


Out of more than 8,000 applicants across 19 countries, 17 student teams were chosen from 500 leading universities to advance to the final phase of the event. The top three finalist teams were the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines), Dhanbad, India, Zhejiang University in China, and University of Florida in the US.


Team NAVACHARITAM (Technology Replaces Repetitiveness) from the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines), was announced as the KIC winner for developing a solution that brings disruptive innovation to the mining industry, helping enable safer and more sustainable extraction. Using a custom algorithm, sensor imaging and drone technology, the solution is designed to more precisely pinpoint the exact location of minerals to be extracted which would result in considerable reductions of air pollution, time and cost, as well as improvements to worker safety. The winning team members are: Sanchit Kumar, Varnika Kumari, Parth Hetamsaria and Srajan Gupta. The team is currently in the process of patenting their solution.


“The panel of judges selected the student team from the Indian Institute of Technology because they addressed a problem with global relevance – safety and sustainability in the mining industry – and developed a solution that was commercially and technically viable,” said Phil Thornley, Partner with KPMG Australia and a lead practitioner with KPMG’s Global Lighthouse Center of Excellence for Data, AI and Emerging Technologies. “This technology shows great promise; it has the potential to offer significant safety, environmental and cost benefits.”


The winning team will receive US$50,000 in seed funding to bring their idea to market with coaching and guidance from KPMG professionals. All participating teams retain intellectual property rights for their ideas and solutions.


During the two-day international competition, students worked in teams – mentored by KPMG professionals made up of developers, data scientists and business consultants – to present a disruptive AI and emerging tech-driven solution that delivers increased value to business and society. This challenge allowed students to experience the type of work KPMG teams do every day for clients and witness how KPMG member firms brings diverse teams together to collaborate, design, develop and deliver industry-leading solutions.


“The work KPMG member firms do – and the way KPMG professionals work – is changing drastically. AI, automation and advanced analytics increasingly drive our Audit, Tax and Advisory services,” said Nhlamu Dlomu, Global Head of People, KPMG International. “That’s why this year KPMG brought STEM and business students together into the same competition. We believe that greater diversity in skillsets leads to more innovative and creative solutions.”



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