Gateway and Dialog Celebrate the Winners of InnovaThon 2021

Gateway College and Dialog Enterprise, the corporate solutions arm of Dialog Axiata PLC, celebrated the winners of the InnovaThon 2021 in grand style on the 8th of December at the Dialog Auditorium. The event was graced by Dr Harsha Alles, Chairman of Gateway Group; Supun Weerasinghe, Group Chief Executive, Dialog Axiata PLC; Venura Mendis, Head of the ICT Business, Dialog Axiata PLC; Principals of the Gateway Colleges and many officials and well-wishers of both of Gateway Colleges and Dialog.

Gateway being the only Microsoft showcase school in Sri Lanka is at the forefront of digital education and a leader in driving 21st-century learning that incorporates the 6Cs – creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, citizenship, and character. With the vision of becoming the preferred Digital Transformation partner for the Education Sector of Sri Lanka, DigiEdu, the Digital Education vertical of Dialog Enterprise, partnered with Gateway College to further facilitate the school’s Digital Transformation journey and identified the Gateway Schools as ‘Dialog DigiEdu Model Schools’. Both Dialog and Gateway believe in encouraging a digital-based learning journey by producing future-ready kids.

InnovaThon 2021 was the very first initiative through this partnership, where winners from Gateway will be eligible to participate at future National and International App Challenges. Through this novel social innovation competition, Dialog Enterprise, through Ideamart and Innovation Foundry encouraged the young entrepreneurs of Gateway to develop innovative solutions to solve social and environmental challenges for social good. The competition went beyond simply offering awards to the winners and included non-financial support in the form of business accelerator services through training, mentoring, and coaching.

Over 800 participants came together ranging from ages 7+ to 17+ to submit over 250 entries. Students took part in teams of 2 to 4 in two categories: World Citizenship where they develop technology solutions to contribute to the community through a particular service, and the Gaming Category where they ideate a game to solve a problem. These teams were mentored and coached by the Ideamart and Innovation Foundry teams to polish their ideas into fruition and 45 teams made it to the semi-finals. Twelve teams were selected for the Finals and had to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges who selected the final winners of the competition after fierce judging and deliberation. These winners were recognized at the ceremony under four main titles.

Best Female Team was won by Team SVIS - Sushaini Perera, Isumi Jayathilake and Sashmitha Tanvi whose idea was Healthy Food Pals, an app that encourages healthy eating practices, water intake and sets goals for a healthy lifestyle.

Most Innovative Idea Team was claimed by Team Calori – Brothers, Sachintha Senanayake and Chirantha Senanayake who created an Artificial Intelligence-based app that calculates the calorie count of a plate of food by taking a photograph which will encourage healthy eating and work towards reducing obesity in the world because of the increased intake of energy density foods.

The distinction of Best Gaming Team went to Team Wrecking Crew, comprising of Omal Anthony Perera, Evaan Anthony Perera, Nevan Fernando and Marrise Fernando who came up with a game that educates players on the importance of marine life and the preservation of oceans.

The Best World Citizenship Team recognition was awarded to Team Gaming Amigos comprising of Lishan Shakil Dole, Nethaya Yashendri Hettiarachchi, Nicholai Steve Fernandopulle and Shayani Leahra Dole. The winning idea was TrackIt, an app that can track your luggage while travelling, thereby reducing incidents such as lost baggage.

Apart from these awards, two more awards were given out at the ceremony which included the Overall Champion Award which was decided by the panel of judges based on the pitching sessions at the event itself, and the Most Popular Team award which was based on votes. The judging panel for the Overall Championship consisted of Ramesh Indika, Product Head - Enterprise Security; Viranga Senevirathne, General Manager- IdeaMart and Ruchira Yasaratne, Senior General Manager - Services and Network Assurance of Dialog.

The Overall Championship went to Sachintha Senanayake and Chirantha Senanayake of Team Calori who managed to impress all those present with their creative proposition all the while fielding the questions thrown at them by the judges. The Most Popular award was won by team Wrecking Crew of Gateway College Negombo.

The event was addressed by Dr Alles, Chairman of Gateway Group, as well as Venura Mendis, Head of the ICT Business, Dialog Axiata, and the vote of thanks was given by Sameera Wijerathna, Head of Digital Education, Dialog Axiata. Venura mentioned that there were some amazing ideas from the students of Gateway and that he hopes that these ideas will see fruition at a market level. He stated that the students who were at the event are the future and they might be the ones making the next set of digital tools that Dialog will be using, which he said makes this programme truly exciting. Dr Alles stressed the importance of schools needing to bring programmes of this nature to reality as it encourages thinking in our learners and thanked Dialog for giving students this exposure at a very young age as you could only expect wonders from such students in years to come.

Adheesha of Gateway College makes further advances in Scrabble

The Gladiators WESPA Championships 2021, formerly known as the World Scrabble Championships, took place this November on an online platform with the participation of the best players from all over the world. Representing Sri Lanka were Radinka Dissanayake, Priya Fernando, Adheesha Dissanayake, Janidu Karunaratne, Imeth de Silva and Sandali Vithanage.

Gateway’s Adheesha Dissanayake, at 13 years, was the youngest ever to represent Sri Lanka. He won 16 out of 32 games, competing against players such as Waseem Khatri, the national champion of Pakistan, Syed Imaad Ali, two times world youth champion and a few other top youth players such as Nattapat Nak-in and Thomson Law Long Yin.

This year, there were four teenagers from Sri Lanka. Nineteen year old Radinka Dissanayake, playing for the second time, won half of her games (16) and Sandali Vithanage won 18 games. Imeth, Janidu and Priya too excelled by winning 16, 14 and 11 games respectively.

Alastair Richards of New Zealand emerged as the new world champion beating the previous world champion David Eldar of Australia in the finals.