A bridge too far? Not for this University of Edinburgh start-up which has won a Facebook social impact award for bridging the divide between rich and poor in Africa
Hyperion Development, a small University of Edinburgh start-up which provides scalable software development and computer science education internationally, has won $150,000 cash, plus a further $60,000 support grant as part of an Innovation Challenge in Africa Award from Facebook.
The spin-out scooped the award, which is one of six devised by Internet.org, an initiative led by Facebook, in the Education Category of the awards.
It has developed an educational platform which enables people across the African continent, where everyone – rich and poor – and with or without Internet access – can take part in free coding classes which can create opportunities and prospects for better employment and higher paying jobs.
The partnership’s mission is to bring affordable access to selected internet services to less developed countries by increasing efficiency, and facilitating vibrant educational opportunities such as app and website development and other online services that provide real value in the categories of education and economic empowerment.
Hyperion Development has been nurtured by the LAUNCH.ed team at Edinburgh Research & Innovation (ERI), the commercialisation arm of the University of Edinburgh.
Liza Sutherland, enterprise executive at LAUNCH.ed, said: “This is a massive boost for such a young company to be recognised by the biggest social media giant on the planet. Facebook and its Partners place huge emphasis on education programmes and internet access in the developing world.
“Across Africa, internet connectivity is still a significant challenge in thousands of communities and therefore coding and software development has been confined to the bigger conurbations and cities.
“The fact that a University of Edinburgh company is taking the initiative to bring coding opportunities to all has been recognised by Facebook with this award win, and reflects Hyperion Development’s vision and ambition to help transform lives and help those interested in coding realise their potential.”
Riaz Moola, founder and managing director of Hyperion Development, said: “We believe this coding education is uniquely empowering – no skill can more rapidly empower individuals to gain access to well-paying careers, yet no skill is as hard to learn in the third world. In Africa alone, over 200 million low-income youth can harness the skills we teach to change their lives forever.
“LAUNCH.ed and ERI has supported our businesses during the past year and our success in this Facebook-led competition would not have been possible without the proactive support offered to us.”
Hyperion Development has built the first online course platform for computer science education supported by the largest online community of software developers in Africa.
It enables anyone to take online courses in coding with a personal computer or mobile phone, even with limited internet connection, which fewer than 1% of Africans have.