Masters 22 May 2018

NUS MSBA students sweep 2 out of 3 prizes for the Y3-NUS Innovation Challenge 2018

After a month and a half of intensive trials for the Y3-NUS Innovation Challenge, NUS Masters of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) students Team Optimize Prime and Team Flash clinched two out of the top three prizes while Team ACOE received a Special Mention in the final round.

Held at Supply Chain City on 7 April 2018, over 100 graduate and undergraduate students across 19 teams participated in the Innovation Challenge which was started on 22 February 2018. Participants were tasked to develop new, commercially viable search engines that can optimise shipping routes and efficiently transport goods from Singapore to major cities in China, the teams creatively applied analytics tools, optimisation techniques and blockchain-based technology. The judges looked out for engines that were most capable of generating optimised transport costs and lead times based on multiple supply chain and logistics parameters including order details and carrier availability.

Assoc Prof James Pang, Co-Director of NUS Business Analytics Centre, said, “The supply chain industry is undergoing unprecedented change, making it well-placed for innovative ideas and different approaches to flourish. This Innovation Challenge presents an excellent opportunity for our students to tackle an extremely complex and multi-faceted real-world problem by applying what they have learnt and leveraging different analytics tools and emerging technologies from Y3 and veriTAG.” The Centre, which offers the NUS MSBA programme, is supported by the NUS Business School and NUS School of Computing.

Team Optimize Prime with Mr Marc Dragon, CEO of Y3 Technologies

Among the shortlisted teams, Team Optimize Prime and Team Flash distinguished themselves from the rest to clinch the second and third place, respectively. Even in the face of a difficult question, Team Optimize Prime comprising Debosmita Chaudhuri, Zhang Qianru, Mayank Khannah, Leow Kar Gea, Rahul Gupta, and Nikhar Khandelwal did not feel thwarted.

“The problem statement of the Y3 challenge was a very real and complicated issue that different researchers and corporations are actively trying to solve. Hence it was very exciting for us as graduate students to test our skills on such a question,” said Debosmita.

Believing that the smooth collaboration between the diverse members of the team was the key to their win, Debosmita added: “Advanced mathematical programming techniques that we learnt in various MSBA courses were critical in solving this challenge. Since MSBA students come from a very broad range of backgrounds we were able to build a balanced team with different skills.”

Team Flash

Team Flash, consisting Leong Wai Leng, Anger Ang Weien, Selina Wijaya Ng, Goh Jenn Yang and Maanas Prabhakar, had to struggle with the thought of not completing the challenge. They were juggling with their mounting workload and felt they could not meet the timeline for the innovation challenge.

The team said, “The challenge required us to think on our feet fast, from formulating the problem, to modelling and making fine-tuning changes.” However, with this experience, they felt that it sharpened their critical problem-solving skills.

NUS MSBA alumnus Zhou Yumin receiving the prize on behalf of Team ACOE

Last but not least, Team ACOE was awarded Special Mention. Constituting MSBA alumni Zhou Yumin, Samarth Agarwal, Whye Loon Tung, Zhang Xuejie, they had been specially invited to present during the final round for a Special Mention. All members are currently working as data scientists at DBS.

“The time limitation was the biggest challenge, especially since all of our members are working full-time, and in the same department. Thus, I’m really honoured that we got the Special Mention,” said Yumin, the team’s representative.

When asked about the quality of the final presentations delivered, both Mr Marc Dragon, CEO of Y3 Technologies and Assoc Prof James Pang of NUS Business Analytics Centre unanimously agreed on how the teams had exceeded their expectations.

Mr Dragon’s said, “Even though it has only been a month and a half, I was very happy to see not only in-depth quality but also a breadth of methods that could challenge the traditional ways of solving cross-border, multi-national problems.”

Y3 Chief Operating Officer Mr Gabriel Tho said, “We are impressed with the calibre of these students. Within less than 2 months, they picked up a basic understanding of logistics and synthesized this with their academic learning to develop innovative and practical solutions for cross-border trade. We are proud to partner with NUS to develop Singapore’s pipeline of home-grown business analytics talents so that we can collectively be future-ready.”

The Y3-NUS Innovation Challenge 2018 was co-organised by leading omni-channel software solutions provider Y3 Technologies (Y3), cross-border cloud-tagging specialist veriTAG, and the NUS Business Analytics Centre.

For more information on the NUS MSBA programme, please visit http://msba.nus.edu/.