Open Innovation Leveraging IBM Watson

The IBM Watson course, also listed as UGBA 198 has been one of the most successful and challenging courses for undergraduate students at Berkeley Haas. The intention of UGBA 198 is to incorporate student innovation with Watson – IBM’s artificially intelligent computer system that is capable of answering questions posed in natural language. Unlike other intelligent computer systems today, Watson is unique in that it learns by “reading” vast amounts of information rather than relying only on the information that is programmed into it – making the possibilities of its use in data dependent industries endless. Watson “grows” with knowledge as it processes new information that it then uses to pitch potential solutions to a specific problem – varying confidence levels and alternative choices included.

IBM executives present to UGBA 198 students.

IBM executives present to UGBA 198 students.

By creating such a unique course, it is the hope of both UC Berkeley and IBM to provide students with the opportunity to leverage Open Innovation and apply their critical business and analytic thinking skills on a real life project that will have impacts on our everyday lives. Students are immersed in an environment completely reflective of today’s business and technology world. Students are divided into groups of five and are challenged to develop new cognitive computing applications for a variety of industries ranging from health care to finance. Although students are able to employ the use of Watson in these differing industries, UGBA 198 students are encouraged to delve deeper into the realm of health care. Professor Darwin’s close relationship with India’s renowned Apollo Hospitals (current CEO and COO were themselves students of Darwin’s executive program class), gives students the opportunity to work with the largest health care association in the entire world. Apollo is the best candidate to work with on this project as it is the largest hospital group in Asia whose presence encompasses over 10,000 beds across 56 hospitals, more than 1500 pharmacies, over 100 primary care & diagnostic clinics, 115 telemedicine units across 9 countries, health insurance services, global projects consultancy, 15 academic institutions and a Research Foundation with a focus on global clinical trials, epidemiological studies, stem-cell and genetic research. Apollo Hospital’s decision to give 12,000 patient records to our student app developers allows them to work with real-time data and further supports student goals of creating a tele-med app that will be relevant to 80% of the world population that lives outside of the United States and Europe.

At the end of the course, Professors Darwin and Wroblewski will select the top 2-3 teams from their respective classes that they believe offer the most promising app ideas. From this semi-finalist pool, IBM will then personally select a finalist to represent each of the seven schools. These finalists will then compete for the grand prize of $100,000 in seed money to be used to launch their winning app idea and actualize their hard work. By collaborating with students across different majors and studies, students are able to benefit from a truly interdisciplinary environment – one that is reflective of nearly any company’s synergic atmosphere.

  • IBM executives teach UGBA198 students.