Passion prevails

Teams impress judges with their inventive ideas and energetic presentations at the HSBC Young Entrepreneur Awards national finals.

FROM bio-degradable body armour made of coconut shells to a backpack that uses wireless signals to charge electronic devices, Malaysian students at the HSBC Young Entrepreneur Awards 2010/11 national finals proved that they had no shortage of inventive business ideas.

But the winning proposal was a deceptively simple one. Titled “Advanced Crab Technology”, team EcoVision’s proposal sought to address the crab farming industry’s current problems of unhygienic water conditions and crab cannibalism.

This is achieved by a combination of placing crabs in individual units to prevent cannibalism and utilising a recycled water filteration system to ensure that the crabs are free of disease.

In the team’s presentation to the judges, Taylor’s University student Lim Sher Li explained that the idea could yield ample profit.

“Right now, about 50% of the soft-shell crabs in Malaysia are imported from other countries.

“Our method can produce five times more crabs using a minimal amount of land area, effectively allowing us to fill the market demand,” she said.

Sher Li, together with teammates Gan Mei Lei and Chong Pei Wah walked away with a self-development grant worth RM15,000, as well as a spot in the competition’s regional finals in Hong Kong next month.

Pei Wah was quick to thank her lecturers, friends and family for their support of the team.

“We couldn’t have done it without them; our lecturers, for example, were very helpful in terms of giving us feedback about our presentation.

“I think all those sessions with them (the lecturers) were instrumental in tightening our proposal and helping us anticipate the judges’ questions,” she said.

HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad executive director and deputy chief executive officer Jon Addis said the team’s energetic presentation helped push them ahead of their competitors.

“They were clearly excited and enthusiastic about their idea, which elevated their presentation over the rest.

“Additionally, the proposal itself was very commercial, and I especially liked their idea of using a water filteration system,” said Addis, who was also the chief judge at the finals.

Addis added that it was a close call between team EcoVision and second-place winners The Green Team.

Earning the Silver award and a cash prize of RM10,000, The Green Team’s idea was utilising coffee waste to cultivate oyster mushrooms.

Comprising UCSI University students Koh Hui Kieng and Yeong Hoe Kin, the team also received the Eco-Business Innovation Award worth RM3,000 for their environmentally-friendly idea.

Meanwhile, team e-Saver Inc comprising Universiti Teknologi Petronas students Mohammad Sollehuddin Sabtu and Muhammad Nur Iman Zahari bagged both the Bronze award worth RM5,000 and the Social Responsibility Award worth RM3,000.

The team had proposed a electricity measuring device, which aimed to educate home users and commercial business on their electricity usage and how they could curb power wastage. The two other finalists, team Innov and team Imprenatable, each received a Certificate of Excellence and a cash prize of RM2,000.

Addis applauded all the finalists for their hard work.

“It’s great to see young people delivering their ideas with such verve and passion, because this quality is important in both life and business.

Another judge at the finals, Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants vice-president Ken Pushpanathan, echoed this sentiment.

“I think what is valuable about this competition is that it is a platform for young people to enhance their communication and English speaking skills.

“We don’t just look at the teams’ ideas, but also at the way participants articulate these ideas and how they are able to cope under pressure,” he said.

In its 10th year, the HSBC YEA is open to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students and aims to encourage creative entrepreneurial thinking among young people.

The regional finals will be held in Hong Kong on June 20, and will see national winning teams vying for the Best of the Best Award worth HK$100,000 (RM38,000).

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