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Katz School Students Shine in YU's Innovation Challenge

AI students Ankit Kumar Aggarwal and Ovadia Sutton, fourth and fifth from left, won the Ethical Impact Award for their Peer 2 Peer Park Share app.

Students from the Katz School claimed first- and third-place finishes, as well as the Ethical Impact Award, in YU’s Innovation Lab Challenge Pitch Night, which focused on refining the startup skills of aspiring entrepreneurs.

“It was an exciting, dynamic and transformative journey that challenged participants to think big, act boldly and push their limits,” said Dr. Maria Blekher, director of the YU Innovation Lab, which co-sponsored the event with the Shevet Glaubach Center for Career Strategy and Professional Development.

Naomi Fried, a student in the Katz School’s M.S. in Biotechnology Management and Entrepreneurship, was part of the team that won first prize for a proposal called AI-curracy, which aims to improve the success rate of treatment plans for mental health patients.

While 70% of people with depression respond to antidepressants, two-thirds don't respond to the first antidepressant they try. An AI-supported software would operate as a decision support system for psychiatrists and other mental health professionals by using computer data to customize a therapeutic approach for each patient.

"We're trying to find a way to figure out what medications work best for what people based on their different biomarkers," said Fried.

Participants in the challenge were assessed on six criteria: market potential, innovation, feasibility, execution plan, presentation and ethical impact. The AI-curracy team was awarded the top of prize of $1,000 and extended an invitation to join the YU Innovation Lab’s next cohort.

R to L: Julia Bakhitova (DMM), Prem Chand Jala (DAV), Zaruhi Karapetyan (BME) and Akiva Erlbaum (SY SYMS) placed third for their idea about a fashion app that would allow users to create custom designs for clothes using AI technology.

“Our idea stemmed from our desire and willingness to help others, and we came up with something that will do exactly that,” said Fried, who was joined by Lynn Dahan and Raphi Singer, both of them students in the Sy Syms School of Business.

Katz School artificial intelligence students Ankit Kumar Aggarwal and Ovadia Sutton won the Ethical Impact Award for their Peer 2 Peer (P2P) Park Share app, which would enable drivers to secure a parking spot from almost anywhere. Similar to reserving a room at an Airbnb, drivers could rent a homeowner’s parking space through the app, which would allow drivers to get real-time information on parking availability and rates.

“What makes our idea unique is its focus on residential parking,” said Aggarwal, who is in his first semester in the M.S. In Artificial Intelligence. “Government could save a lot of money on building infrastructure for parking if people had the opportunity to park in spaces that aren’t used by their neighbors.”

An idea for a fashion app that would allow users to create custom designs for clothing using AI technology took third place. Prem Chand Jala, a student in the M.S. in Data Analytics and Visualization, said that with just a few keystrokes on their smart device, shoppers could use the AI tool SMARTY (Sophisticated Machine Answerable and Responsive To You) to create their own fashion designs using natural language processing and text-to-image conversion.

"Our team believes that it has the potential to provide significant value to millions of people who lead busy lives and are always on the go, yet want to stand out from the crowd," said Zaruhi Karapetyan, a student in the M.S. in Biotechnology Management and Entrepreneurship.

In addition to Chand Jala and Karapetyan, the team included students Julia Bakhitova, M.S. in Digital Marketing and Media, and Akiva Erlbaum, Sy Syms School of Business. Dr. Blekher said that when it comes to entrepreneurship, she believes in the power of experiential learning.

“As the leader of this incredible program, I'm excited to see how the next generation of entrepreneurs will impact our world," she said. "There's nothing quite like going through an experience to truly transform your understanding and capabilities, and that's exactly what the YU Innovation Challenge was for students: a fully immersive entrepreneurship experience.”