Mathematics-Economics students win business competition – University of Copenhagen

30 June 2017

Mathematics-Economics students win business competition


Danske Bank, KMD and Microsoft are behind the competition Business Analytics Challenge, where university students from across the country could work with large amounts of data from the real world.

The three companies asked the students a very specific question: Can you predict the future of a company? Can Big Data help to predict if a business is successful or if it is failing?

One group of students in particular has found a winning formula, writes Danske Bank in a press release. The group is called Neural Networkers and consists of Sebastian Pedersen and Nikolaj Thams (mathematics-economics students), Lasse Petersen (statistics student) and Simon Harmat (student of economics).

The team has answered the question by focusing on predicting company defaults a year in advance .

“To do this we built a framework which extracts and refines publicly available Danish annual reports and merged this with a variety of other sources. We then utilized modern techniques from statistics and machine learning, combined with financial theory, to build models able to predict company default a year before they happened. (...) Using our model we were able to detect 51.8% of the defaulted companies with only a 10% false positive rate on the non-defaulting companies," the four students write in their report.

Neural Networkers were named winners of the competition at a final event on Monday, 26 June. Here the students presented their solutions to a committee consisting of Jesper Nielsen, Director of Danske Bank Personal Banking, Eva Berneke, CEO of KMD and Marianne Dahl Steensen, CEO of Microsoft Denmark.

"The group had the full package. Both in terms of model data, but also in terms of improving it with external data, which was not at all part of the data set in the competition. So the group showed great creativity, and at the same time where good at showing how the model could be applied in practise," explains Jesper Nielsen.

Professor Niels Richard Hansen of the Department of Mathematical Sciences fully agrees:

“They did excellent work and gave an brilliant presentation, so they fully deserved to win. Many congratulations from me and the department”.

Read more about BAC 2017