Scottish start-up wins social impact award from Facebook

A Scottish university start-up company has been recognised by Facebook for its pioneering work in bringing digital education to people in Africa.

Hyperion Development, based at the University of Edinburgh, has won a ‘social impact’ award from the social media giant for its attempts to give free coding skills to people in Africa.

The company has developed an educational platform which is able to fund the lessons by charging UK students for online coding education with 1:1 human mentors sourced from the top 1% of talent in Africa.

Every course they purchase allows 1 low income student in Africa to learn entirely free, giving them access to career opportunities that wouldn’t exist otherwise.

For its efforts the company receives the ‘Innovation Challenge Award’ in the Education Category, one of six ‘Innovation Challenge in Africa’ awards, devised by Internet.org, an initiative led by Facebook.

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.

“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,” said Riaz Moola, Founder & Managing Director of Hyperion Development.

“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.”

The company, which provides scalable software development and computer science education, has won a wins $150,000 cash for the ‘social impact’ award, plus a further $60,000 support grant from Facebook.

Hyperion Development has been nurtured by the LAUNCH.ed team at Edinburgh Research & Innovation (ERI), the commercialisation arm of the University of Edinburgh.

“This is a massive boost for such a young company to be recognised by the biggest social media giant on the planet,” said Liza Sutherland, Enterprise Executive at LAUNCH.ed comments.

“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.”

Hyperion Development allows 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.

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