The thirty eight winners of the Young Innovators Challenge 2015 were announced in May following a detailed application, an inspiring Innovation Weekend and a challenging video pitch. The winners gathered in Dundee last week for the Winners Bootcamp to take their social innovation ideas from concept to reality.
The three day residential Bootcamp started with some yoga breathing techniques and a round of speed networking to get everyone in the right mind frame for the busy day ahead. The opening session was led by two of SIE’s Business and Innovation Advisors, Dawn Shand and Jonathan Tait who highlighted the importance of continually scanning and adapting to the external environment. Historical examples of Amazon and Tesco were used to bring some life into the well-used PESTLE analysis which was aptly followed by Jane Ambrose, from Inspiring Futures, who delivered a comprehensive session on finance.
Next up was a speaker that the budding entrepreneurs could easily identify with. Christopher McCann, of snap40, was in the same position as each of them this time last year after winning the Young Innovators Challenge 2014. Christopher now works on his business full time, employs several staff members and has secured £160,000 worth of funding. He talked about his journey and the importance of resilience when trying to implement social change, and there was a queue of students waiting to ask questions at the end.
A special appearance was made by STV Dundee who interviewed some of the local YIC 2015 winners and BBC Scotland arrived to broadcast a radio segment with SIE CEO, Fiona Godsman.
For the rest of the day, Lesley Hetherington supported the winners as they reviewed their Business Model Canvas with a flurry of post-it notes and animated discussions before the winners headed off to distil their ideas over dinner.
The SIE team kicked off day two with a CreAction session to underline the benefits of working in diverse groups for effective problem solving. Maryanne Johnston followed to share her expertise on pitching, which is an invaluable skill for start-ups looking for funding.
A flurry of questions and lively debate from the group was sparked by a talk from another inspiring young entrepreneur, Mason Holden (co-founder of Bike Vault), as he introduced his revolutionary bicycle storage bundle.
Alastair Blake and Cameron Walker from Marks and Clerk delivered a critical session for the winners who have already begun the process of protecting the commercial value of their idea while the rest of the day was devoted to honing the Value Proposition Canvas in preparation for pitching the next day. The winners then had a well-deserved opportunity to relax and enjoy the hotel spa facilities.
The third morning started with each student delivering a 60 second pitch to a panel of SIE Senior Business and Innovation Advisors who will become the student’s key SIE contacts over the coming months. The quality of pitches was exceptional and each one was delivered with passion and confidence in their idea.
With the pitches out the way, Tom McGuire led a session to encourage the winners to devise the next steps to take their ideas forward over the coming months.
Dr Paul Nelson, Founder and CEO of Phrisk – a public health consultancy, delivered a talk that covered a wide range of relevant topics, from mindset to team building which roused some further questions from the captive audience of winners.
Last in the line-up was Norma Collete, who dazzled the students with an interactive session on building and tapping into your networks which capped off a fantastic Bootcamp experience for the YIC 2015 winners.
The final act of the day was to present the winners with their prizes of up to £2000 each. The prize money will allow each student to continue to develop their socially innovative business ideas over the summer with the dedicated support of the Senior Business &Innovation Advisors, and two further workshops.
There will be an opportunity to pitch for further funding of up to £5000 in August, and we can’t wait to see how the winning ideas develop till then!