Pinoys make it to US shortlist


    TWO Filipino innovators have made it to the semi-finals round of the US Department of States’ Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Tech-I pitch competition, a news release from the US Embassy in Manila disclosed.

    The GIST Tech-I is an annual competition for science and technology entrepreneurs from emerging economies worldwide.

    Started in 2011, the competition aims to empower “young innovators through networking, skills building, mentoring, and access to financing to develop startup solutions that address economic and development challenges,” according to the competition’s website.

    The Philippines’ Mary Christine Ong-Reyes and Corina Lisa Cruz are among the 102 semi-finalists selected from 51 countries.

    Out of the semi-finalists, up to 30 finalists will receive a trip to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Silicon Valley, California to showcase their ventures and to receive intensive one-on-one mentorship and training.

    Ong-Reyes created a mobile application, called “ParentUp,” that helps mothers with newborns obtain information and emotional support for their health and well-being from pregnancy to postpartum.

    The app has four key features. “ParentUp” has the Parenting Support, a chat line which consists of experts like doulas, lactation consultants and other parents “who will provide non-judgmental information and emotion support.”

    Another feature is the Mobile Journal where moms can log their emotional status. The app will then analyze the entry and will provide necessary advice.

    There is also the Information feature where mothers can get health and parenting facts based on modern research. The app will show curated content that is relevant based on the mothers’ preferences.

    Lastly, “ParentUp” offers the New Mother Registry feature where parents can request for help or items from her friends and family. This registry could reach many people as it can be shared on social media.

    The proponent stated that healthy moms are more confident to face the challenges of parenthood and will, in turn, benefit their offspring.

    “Studies show that the single best determinant on the health of a child is the mental and physical health of their mother,” Ong-Reyes said in a video ad.

    Cruz pitched an easy-to-use educational activity-packed app, called “Joomajam.”
    It has the combination of bilingual music, videos and games to spark multi-domain education and nurture lifelong learners.

    Cruz acknowledged the many distractions kids face when they are studying, like new and high-tech gadgets.

    “Learning can be boring. In school or at home, learning becomes a chore. Kids would want to play on their gadgets, and technology sometimes creates a growing gap with the families. With no guidance, kids get exposed to inappropriate messages. Suddenly technology becomes the bad guy,” Cruz stated in her ad.

    But technology can actually be the children’s best friend if it has the “Joomajam” app that can make the learning process engaging and fun, the video added.

    The app has features where children can learn lessons about colors, making friends, playing, among many others.

    Ong-Reyes and Cruz could be among the 30 finalists if they will be able to amass huge online votes. Supporters may vote for them on GIST Tech-I’s website (www.gistnetwork.org) until May 1.


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