Pictured: Victor del Rosal (NCI), John Fleming (Citi), Deveshi (NCI Codaline Team Leader), Anu Sahni (NCI), Petr Dementiev (Citi mentor for Codaline)
On Thursday afternoon Codaline, a team of students from National College of Ireland's MSc in Cloud Computing, won the grand final of the Citi upStart programme held at Queen’s University Belfast. Codaline successfully pitched its business plan integrating two of today’s most popular and profitable technologies: artificial intelligence and cloud computing.
upStart is a team-based entrepreneurship programme run by Citi in Ireland. Teams of postgraduate students from different universities propose start-up business plans, based on a new IT artefact. Each plan must be feasible and the teams have to improve their plans together, along with Citi mentors over a period of six months. Each start-up plan is ultimately judged on novelty and marketability.
Codaline, founded by a team of MSc Cloud Computing students, has devised an innovative chatbot for cloud computing infrastructures to allow users and system administrators to interact seamlessly with different cloud providers through normal text chat rather than having to know complex commands.
The upStart entrepreneurship programme is coordinated by John Fleming, Vice President, Global Finance Technology Systems at Citi. In his capacity, as the Citi upStart programme leader, he has commented that “Citi is delighted to have National College of Ireland joining the upStart programme this year and we are really excited about the innovative ideas coming from their master’s students.”
In its sixth annual iteration, the Citi upStart now encompasses five leading higher education institutions in Ireland. At NCI, a selected group of MSc in Cloud Computing students competed to join the programme this year. Students were selected based on their performance in challenges within their master’s programme. They also benefitted from advice from top mentors at Citi, increasing their exposure to industry, while emphasising the importance of real-world innovation and product development.
Dr Anu Sahni, faculty entrepreneur lead at NCI, and Dr Horacio Gonzalez-Velez, head of the NCI Cloud Competency Centre and programme director of the MSc in Cloud Computing, highlighted that “Codaline’s achievement has helped us reiterate NCI’s commitment to tech entrepreneurship”. Victor del Rosal, upStart coordinator at NCI and futurist, said “What is the next interface [for clouds]? …The answer is chatbots.”
Headed by Motti Finkelstein, CTO for Global Strategy & Planning and Americas at Citigroup, the judging panel in the final included business and technology experts from Citi, Microsoft, and Dell. Codaline competed with teams from four other institutions: Trinity College Dublin, Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University, and the University of Limerick.
Citi upStart is a clear collaboration between academia and industry to develop talent and high- tech entrepreneurs. In addition to encouraging the production of commercial ideas, it will help to foster 21st century skills such as creativity, collaboration, and leadership, which are essential for future success. The programme included guest lecturers from the technology industry, who will discuss the latest developments and sector trends.
Codaline will soon head to London to visit Level 39 - Europe’s largest technology accelerator - and have dinner with some senior management from Citi.