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Seeing with new eyes – our innovators work their magic at RNIB’s Techshare

It was a real privilege to take part in RNIB’s Techshare, a European-wide conference around the topic of technology and accessibility. The event was held at the Science Centre and attracted big brand names such as Apple, Google and Samsung. SIE’s brief was to challenge student innovators from Scottish colleges and universities to create new products and services that would enhance the lives of blind and partially-sighted people.

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The eight groups of students started their allocated two days by speaking to event volunteers from RNIB and receiving advice from Google and Apple representatives. They also took part in focus groups with potential customers to immerse themselves in their customers’ worlds. The groups then defined a challenge, generated ideas and produced a rough prototype. At the end of the conference, the student teams pitched their ideas on-stage to conference delegates.

Our innovators have the opportunity to continue to work on their ideas with support from the SIE Business advisors. Here’s their advice for budding entrepreneurs and those interested in similar events:

Immerse yourself in customers’ shoes

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“Before you start, spend a day or two simulating whatever challenge your customers have. I can guarantee your assumptions will differ greatly from the reality of the situation.”

“Speaking to users is something I had never done before and it was a great experience, to get quality insight into these people’s lives.”

“Learn how to facilitate a focus group without leading them to the answer you want to hear.”  

Don’t get fixated on one idea

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“Have an open mind and be prepared to explore areas you hadn’t thought of before.”

“The toughest part was to make sure the idea was something our target market would buy.”

“Be prepared to let go of ideas if they’re not viable.”

Remember the impact you can have

Pitching

And the final word goes to

“I was genuinely surprised when my team was approached after our pitch by someone who absolutely loved our idea and wanted to buy the product as soon as possible. It showed me that a small innovation can impact someone else’s life tremendously.

You find more about more about the participants experience on our Storify Board

If you’d like to take part in a future SIE event, contact us via our website.

 

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