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Watson, IBM’s latest cognitive technology has met the challenges of healthcare, customer service, and even beating Jeopardy championship contestants! But what happens when IBM Watson is placed in the hands of UC Berkeley students? It turns out, in the case of Professor Darwin’s UGBA 198 class, students leveraged on Watson’s human-like information processing technology to develop apps and their respective business models, with the hopes of changing the world.

After grappling with the Watson developer throughout the semester, the select group of both business and engineering students developed four fully functioning business plans: KiP, Dr. Watson, Patent Fox, and Health Note. On December 12th, a semester’s worth of the students work came together as the groups presented their final presentations. Judges from IBM included Jim Spohrer, Lisa Schrumpf, Suzanne Lema, Keith Mercier, and Dima Rekesh. Officers from other sectors included the likes of Don Wroblewski and Jean Paul Jacob from UC Berkeley Engineering, Dharmesh Dubey from Johnson & Johnson, Mohi Ahmed from Fujitsu, Steve Myers from United Healthcare, and Karl Mochel from GE.

Chief Operating Officers from Apollo Hospitals also played a critical role in the student’s final presentations, allowing many students to address healthcare and how it can be improved. Knowledge is Power (KiP) trains the IBM Watson corpus with “relevant rudimentary medical knowledge beforehand to maximize available clinician-hours.” An app attractive to students and healthcare administrators alike, the students highlighted KiP’s ability to build special relationships amongst its users. Another group, Dr. Watson, serves as a patient’s first contact for medical inquiries. In providing more information to its users, the app aims to create more efficiency in the healthcare industry, garnering testimonials from Apollo Hospitals themselves. Health Note, the runner-up team, also approached the same industry, providing post-procedural information to patients and ongoing research for their doctors.

However, it was not healthcare but patents that took the win- Patent Fox, to be exact. The unanimous winner from the judges provides “quality… processing of patents and filing services to allow our clients to focus on innovation.” Executives lauded the app, highlighting Watson’s ability to remain impartial amongst competitors, as well as the reduction of costs to patent services. Patent Fox’s practical business model applied with that of IBM Watson’s. Open Innovation proved itself yet again to be a powerful tool in business model development.

All four teams delivered smart presentations that leveraged on the IBM Watson’s capabilities. “As I look at these, even the problem I see with the business models are pivot points for all kinds of interesting start ups… IBM will definitely benefit from here,” Jim Spohrer of IBM said. “Watson’s our baby at IBM, and Berkeley faculty and students are helping it grow up.

The winning team will advance onto the nationwide final rounds on January 9th at the IBM headquarters in New York City, where they will compete for not only $100,000 in prize money, but also the opportunity to gain partnership in the IBM Watson Ecosystem.

Congratulations to all UGBA 198 students on a successful semester!

By Jon Caña