A group of students sponsored by Cellnex comes first in the ENTERPRISE CHALLENGE 2020.
Talent matters. A great deal. And in a growing company like Cellnex, where innovative thinking is essential and in which the average income per employee is around €600,000, they know this very well.
Training, economic and emotional rewards, prospects for professional development, empowerment, involvement … all these maxims are very much a part of the dynamics of the company. But the company also performs numerous activities outside of its premises and employer groups, in constant contact with a society whose digitalisation and modernisation represents a key part of its economic and corporate purpose.
The telecommunications manager and its talent team have various initiatives underway to motivate and retain its employees and to attract new minds and enhance the diversity of the workforce.
In this arena, a team of four young students accepted the challenge —more human than economic— posed by Cellnex to create an application in a short time to optimise waiting times in non-critical patients in overstretched and overcrowded emergency departments.
The proposal was part of the annual ENTERPRISE CHALLENGE organised by the BEST (Barcelona Education in Science and Technology) Foundation, which fosters Open Innovation through collaboration between companies and universities.
Fourteen teams of students applied to the second edition of these awards to solve business challenges proposed by eight companies.
The team sponsored by Cellnex won the first prize, obtaining 88 of the 100 points available.
Ferrán, Adela, Mariona and David are 19 year-olds studying the first year of the four-year degree in Industrial Technologies and Economic Analysis, created last year in collaboration with the Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) and Pompeu Fabra (UPF) Universities.
Like the rest of the students on this degree course, which aims to provide an advanced interdisciplinary training to face new situations and assimilate the future technological advances required by industry to improve its products and processes, this gender-balanced mini group is now in the sights of talent scouts with a strategic interest in technology development.
In addition to boasting a brilliant academic record that afforded them access to the select group of 40 people who each year can start out on a degree course that was created to adapt to new socio-economic realities, these young people shared thought and work dynamics to design —in just 15 days— a system called SIRONA (System for innovation at emergency departments to optimize and monitor non-critical patients), which seeks to reduce patient waiting times and increase the availability of doctors and hospital staff, to help improve overall health care.
Manu Cañete, a telecommunications engineer and head of product strategy and innovation at Cellnex, is a few years older but shares a passion for inventions with these four kids. Manu vividly remembers the enthusiasm that usually accompanies the first years at university and served as a mentor to this Fantastic four in a process coordinated at all times by Cellnex’s talent and development department.
“This is a very interesting initiative. A group of people who have never been in contact with the company or with the challenge it poses, can devise, study and provide a different and novel solution. If you consider this type of initiatives at home, it is normal for typical solutions to be applied and sometimes they throw up nothing new. The interesting thing is that you can tap into talent that naturally thinks out of the box” explains Cañete.
After the first semester, the study coordinator proposes groups of students and assigns them to different companies, which invite students to learn about their dynamics, products and facilities and to present the product they intend to develop.
“This has been my first experience in a large company (just like for my fellow students). My personal opinion is very positive – we were lucky to be able to see first-hand what life is like inside the offices and in the Collserola tower. This project has allowed us to see that many of the things we study in class have an effective application in the real world and can have a very positive impact on society”, explains David Miserachs, one of the four students who took part in the project.
“We challenged them to help hospital A&E departments that have suffered so much during the pandemic. It is a very open proposal: Do something to make the most of waiting times of non-critical patients, a solution to improve healthcare for patients who, once sorted and classified as non-critical, have to wait to be seen” explains Manu.
“They performed a study of patient classification and care times, they talked with healthcare staff … and ended up realising that there are four basic vital signs that could be measured while patients wait which most people end up having anyway.”
Patches connected wirelessly allow the mobile app to read and store the patient’s temperature, pulse, oxygen regulation and blood pressure.
“The most difficult thing, for sure, was designing an app suitable for everyone to use, something as easy and intuitive as possible, taking into account the intended users. The result needed to be something easy and intuitive, with a smooth, relaxed design. As we created the app, we were thinking of an elderly patient who goes to the hospital worried about their state of health and wondering whether they would be able to use the app in that condition,” explains David.
The students delivered what is known as an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) which the Cellnex development team will now have to test and polish to evaluate whether it can make it onto the market.
“With this MVP, we will now continue this project at Cellnex, trying to do real tests, with real devices, incorporating our systems … we want to take this forward to see if we can make it a marketable product” says Manu.
In the meantime Ferrán, Adela, Mariona and David —who explain their work here— will continue studying and dreaming of a professional future that may just cross paths with Cellnex again.
“The idea of working in a company like Cellnex that can have an impact in such different fields strikes me as a very attractive and interesting prospect for my professional future”, admits David.
Journalist and Founder of Newsbub