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Social Challenge set for Scotland’s young innovators

Young people across Scotland are being challenged to come up with ideas to address pressing social issues as the third annual Young Innovators Challenge opens for entries tomorrow.(2nd February)

This year’s competition tasks young people across the country to come up with social innovations which help to tackle big issues faced by society. Categories for the competition are:

· Healthcare and wellbeing

· Green and sustainable energy resources

· Smarter communities and infrastructure

Thirty winners will each win £2,000 as well as hands-on advice from some of Scotland’s leading businesses to help them develop their ideas over the summer. The winners will have the opportunity to return in August to pitch their ideas to judges for additional funding of up to £5,000.

Fiona Godsman, chief executive of competition organisers,Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE), said:

“Last year’s Young Innovators Challenge saw more than 350 entries from young people from a range of backgrounds and disciplines. This year, we again welcome ideas from young people studying at colleges, universities or those taking part in apprenticeships.

“2015 will once again focus on social innovation inScotland. We want to provide budding entrepreneurs the support, encouragement and advice necessary to put their ideas into action to solve some of society’s biggest problems. An idea doesn’t necessarily have to be fully fleshed out – we can help you develop it and take it to the next stage.”

Social innovation is an emerging global phenomenon that brings together enterprising and entrepreneurial thinking with creative innovative skills to deliver solutions with a social impact. Done well, it changes people’s lives and communities for the better.

One winner from last year’s competition, University of Strathclyde graduate Chris McCann, created a potentially life-saving wrist band – ‘snap40’– which monitors hospital patients’ vital signs and sends out an SOS if it detects early warning signs of heart attacks, stroke and other illnesses. The company has completed concepts of prototype and is now raising significant investment to take it to trials.

Chris said:

“Being a Young Innovators Challenge winner in 2014 has been instrumental in helping me take forward the snap40 concept to the point where we’re now looking to trial the wristbands in NHS hospitals in the next 12 months.

“The competition provided fantastic support and guidance to the business. As well as it being a good opportunity to discuss ideas and problems, I developed a number of extremely useful contacts that have proven invaluable to my company.”

Other winners from last year’s challenge include:

· A group of young apprentices from Prestwick Airport, whose idea was to implement aircraft performance software into cars to help improve driving efficiency

· Team REVIVE from the University of Strathclyde,whose idea was to take used ground coffee beans from cafés and restaurants, and use them as fertiliser for growing crops

· Garry Boyle from Heriot Watt University, whose idea was to create dementia-friendly gardens, encouraging social, physical and sensory activity to those suffering from dementia

Annabelle Ewing, Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment, said:

“Now in its third year, this award is a fantastic opportunity for young people from all academic backgrounds to come up with innovative ideas that could go on to change lives in a wide range of sectors.

“Last year’s competition showed that an entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Scotland, building on our rich history of invention and innovation. I would encourage anyone with an exciting idea to enter this year and potentially make a difference in the lives of others.”

Entries for this year’s Young Innovators Challenge can be submitted online from February 2nd until April 8th 2015.Individual and team entries will be accepted. Up to 150 entrants will be invited to a special social innovation development weekend event in April. Here they will develop their ideas into potential social innovations with appropriate mentors.

Following the weekend, the entrants will develop video pitches about their ideas which will result in the selection of 30 final winners in May who will each receive £2000.

The winners will work on their ideas over the summer with the help of SIE and two special half day development workshops, and have the opportunity to pitch to judges in August for additional funding of up to £5000 (1 x £5,000, 1 x £2,500, 1 x£1000).

The competition will end with a special awards evening in August where the winners will have an opportunity to network and celebrate their hard work with other entrants and members of the enterprise community.

You can read more about the Young Innovators Challenge on the YIC2015 webpage.

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