Friday, 19 January 2024

Final year MD students Maria Witkowiak and Linn Persson, along with their team members Marios Christodoulides and Kyriaki Kekkou from the University of Cyprus, have made their mark on the global stage. Their team recently showcased their innovative project, ‘matakia’, at the European Finals of iDays in Barcelona, securing an impressive 5th place among contenders from 23 countries. The event, held on 30 November and 1 December 2023, is a part of the EIT Health initiative, dedicated to fostering healthcare innovation among university students.

The journey to Barcelona began with the team securing first-place at the Nicosia iDays event on 21-22 October 2023. Their project named ‘matakia’ is an innovative children’s book designed to facilitate eye examinations. Matakia, which in greek means ‘tiny eyes’, integrates interactive elements with informative content, simplifying eye health assessments in a domestic setting. According to statistics, every 85 minutes, a child dies of eye cancer. The team devised an engaging children’s picture book that includes interactive activities using a flashlight. This tool enables parents to easily perform eye exams at home. The project’s approach focuses on increasing awareness and promoting early eye exams. It serves as an educational tool for parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals, enabling the early detection of childhood eye diseases. Early diagnosis is crucial in improving treatment outcomes, and this solution empowers parents to identify potential issues sooner.

In Barcelona, Witkowiak and Persson expanded their network, engaging with business experts and exploring new developments in healthcare technology, such as the use of virtual reality in health management. Their project’s success has led to their inclusion in the Beyond programme by Junior Achievements Cyprus, where they continue to refine and develop their innovative concept into a tangible product.

“Being a part of the Matakia team has been a great opportunity to develop my interest in entrepreneurship in healthcare. I had a lot of fun being able to travel to Barcelona, and getting to meet people from different countries, who have the same passions about healthcare and research. I really enjoyed the workshops during the conference and learned important aspects and pitfalls of starting a business. I also got to sightsee Barcelona and try its amazing food!”

Maria Magdalena Witkowiak, MD – Year 6

“The process of creating Matakia has been a completely new experience and has broadened my knowledge of entrepreneurship immensely. Our ongoing journey with Junior Achievement Cyprus has been enriched with opportunities to expand into a field that is not covered by traditional medical education. It has offered challenges, and formed connections with inspiring individuals and companies, who share a common goal to create innovations in the healthcare sector.”

Linn Kajsa Marianne Persson, MD – Year 6

Pictures from the keynote presentation and the pitching process at the iDays European Finals in Barcelona: