CEO of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, Sonja Trotman (left) poses with a jubilant Team Esoteric, winners of the 2018 Blue Flame Challenge. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

Team Esoteric is the winner of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) 2018 Blue Flame Challenge.

Chief Judge, Stephen Savoury, made the announcement at the end of the final round of judging last Thursday when Esoteric, along with three other teams, presented artificial intelligence solutions to assist with exporting Barbadian products to the diaspora.

The teams emerged victorious after completing a 36-hour hackathon hosted by the BIDC and IBM in July.  They then had several weeks to refine their “solutions” before presenting them to judges in the final round.

Team Esoteric comprised five members: Renee Serrant-Layne, Al Pierre Lestrade, Christopher Lowe, Alex Carrington and Ann-Marie Gill. They took on the challenge of “optimising shipping and logistics to connect Bajan products with diaspora markets”.

Spokesperson for Team Esoteric, Renee Serrant-Layne, explained that the web application her group created was designed to reduce the risk to local manufacturers when exporting their products, as well as helping them meet the demands of production and distribution from both online and offline sources.

“We came up with a complete end-to-end solution that takes into consideration several key links along the supply chain channel. That includes sourcing the raw materials, actual shipping and the production of the materials, as well as the distribution of the product.

“We used the language classification system from IBM Cloud and a product description of whatever product you are sending, to generate a harmonised code, because the harmonised code is what you generally need when you are exporting to help identify the product and which tariff should be applied to the product,” she explained.

Her team member, Christopher Lowe, said while team members were skilled, the entire process created a “thirst for more learning”, especially on the IBM Cloud platforms, to provide everyday solutions for “real life” challenges.

The winning team will present its solution in the “Next Generation Innovators’ Forum” at the Barbados Innovation Conference, to be held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Two Mile Hill, St. Michael, from November 7 to 8.

Under the 2018 Blue Flame Challenge, artificial intelligence technology solutions were also sought for the Awareness of and Engagement with Barbadian Products and Exploring Online versus Offline Behaviours of Diaspora Consumers.

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