How Three Dynamic Startups Are Changing the World

Cisco Systems Inc.

NORTHAMPTON, MA / ACCESSWIRE / November 1, 2022 / Cisco Systems Inc.

By Shelley D. Harper

Now that the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge 2022 winners have been officially announced, you'll want to learn more about each winning team and the story behind each innovation. The Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge is an online competition that awards cash prizes to early-stage tech entrepreneurs solving the world's toughest problems. Since 2017, the competition has awarded $3.25 million USD to 78 start-ups from 25 countries.

We are excited for you to learn more about the 2022 winning teams addressing some of the biggest challenges we face through technology-based solutions.


Three dynamic startups - WonderTree, Positive Carbon, and M-SCAN - were each awarded a Second Runner-Up Prize of $50,000 USD. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing members from each team to learn more about their innovative solutions and technologies.


In Pakistan, there are only 550 institutions to serve over 1.5 million children with special needs. Inspired by an older brother with learning disabilities, CTO Muhammad Usman co-founded WonderTree as a developmental platform to benefit these underserved children. The technology incorporates augmented reality to transform physiotherapy, education, and cognitive development exercises into fun, interactive games played online on a laptop computer without the need for skilled operators or special facilities, helping young users develop to their full potential.

In the following Q&A, CEO and co-founder Muhammad Waqas shares his insights on how WonderTree's games have successfully made learning cost-effective and accessible.

What is innovative about the way you are solving the issue?

Muhammad: There are two main ways we provide children with special needs access to education and development.

By leveraging technology, we make their physiotherapy, and educational and cognitive development, more accessible and affordable because our solution doesn't require a physiotherapist at a special facility using specialized equipment; with just a laptop and an internet connection, the child can perform the exercises. This makes our solution more than 80 percent cheaper than conventional methods, as well as scalable and more readily available.

Second, by gamifying conventional, boring, and painful physiotherapy and educational exercises, we make them fun and engaging through augmented reality. This way, children can look forward to playing the games while their skills develop, putting smiles on their faces every time! This is a big motivation for the entire team to keep doing what we are doing.

What sets your solution apart?

Muhammad: First, it's a personal cause. WonderTree is Usman's brainchild, and he leads the entire game and technology development. His experience of having an older brother with disabilities adds a touch of care, love, and consideration for the child and their family. We are not just making any product; we are developing something that can change the lives of children with special needs and help their families.

Second, we have an amazing, crazy, and dynamic team of psychologists, game designers, developers, and artificial intelligence experts, all believing in the cause. The synergy created by this dynamic and talented team has taken WonderTree this far.

Finally, technological innovation using augmented reality turns conventional physiotherapy and educational exercises into games. We also use artificial intelligence to detect and track each child, and to top it off we do all of this online over a web browser on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms. This makes our solution highly effective, accessible, and affordable.

Positive Carbon

Globally, one-third of food produced annually - a staggering 1.3 billion tons - is wasted, costing over $1 trillion USD and contributing to 10 percent of greenhouse emissions. Meet Positive Carbon, based in Ireland, whose sensors alert commercial kitchens to which foods and how much of them they are wasting while providing solutions to cut waste by 50 percent.

Aisling Kirwan, Co-Founder and Director of Operations, briefed me on what sets their technology and sensors apart.

What is innovative about the way you are solving the issue?

Aisling: We help customers increase their profits and make their operations sustainable as they reduce their food waste with a monitoring solution designed to register total waste across all location sites, from low-volume cafes to high-volume workplace campuses.

Our patented food waste sensor uses the same technology as self-driving cars to create a 3-D map of the inside of the bin by using a LiDAR (light detection and ranging) laser. By applying algorithms and our database of thousands of food densities, our technology can calculate the weight of each piece of food thrown in the bin.

What sets your solution apart?

Aisling: No other food waste monitoring company offers a fully automated system such as ours. The food waste sensor identifies the volume and weight of food waste while a camera captures an image of the food and uploads it to the cloud for artificial intelligence (AI) identification. This process is entirely automatic and requires zero kitchen staff interaction, so critically there's no interference to their routine.


Uganda-based M-SCAN was founded by Menyo Innocent, Team Lead & Co-Founder, to address a tragic statistic: On average, 16 Ugandan mothers a day die from maternal health complications because they lacked access to prenatal screening.

Traditional ultrasound equipment is prohibitively expensive for most Ugandan clinics. As an alternative, M-SCAN developed a portable and affordable ultrasound scanning device, tailored for use in sub-Saharan African countries like Uganda, that connects to laptop computers and mobile devices for readout.

To cast a light on how their devices are saving lives, Menyo elaborated on what makes their technology unique.

What is innovative about the way you are solving the issue?

Menyo: M-SCAN probes are affordable, highly portable, and power-efficient devices that connect to laptops, tablets, and mobile phones to offer ultrasound scanning. In contrast, traditional machines are large, bulky, power consuming, and costly, especially for rural, low-resource clinics, which have the most need for cost-effective scanning.

What sets your solution apart?

Menyo: Medics with expertise in sonography (ultrasound) and human-centered technology designed the M-SCAN device to connect to mobile computing platforms with just a USB on-the-go cable.

We are currently leveraging data from previous scans to develop an AI algorithm that improves over time to predict future medical complications.

To learn more about all three teams, be sure to watch the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge 2022 Second Runner-Up Prize winners video.

Stay tuned for more articles in our blog series, featuring interviews with every Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge 2022 winning team.

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