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Manufacturing a ‘eureka’ moment and developing business ideas

By Fiona Godsman - Posted on 6 February 2015

Fiona Godsman, Chief Executive at Scottish Institute for Enterprise, looks at the formation of an idea and how young entrepreneurs can help change the country for the better at this year’s Young Innovators Challenge.

The 21st century has brought with it a number of challenges and opportunities for Scotland. Healthcare issues such as obesity and dementia are a growing threat, which we need to address as a nation. There are opportunities to develop new and cleaner sources of power for our country, make our cities more sustainable, and improve our communities with the latest technological developments.

Solutions to the challenges we face are out there but what we need is that spark of ingenuity to bring them together. All great social innovations started with a small eureka moment – the challenge is to progress that idea and turn it into something much better.

But where to start?

Identify a social issue

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.

Look around your local community, where you work, on the news, and at things you do every day and try to spot an issue which affects either you, or the people around you. A little conscious observation can go a long way and you might find you recognise a problem previously taken for granted.

Your ‘eureka’ moment

Contrary to common belief, a ‘eureka’ moment isn’t something borne of chance or spontaneity. Rather, in the vast majority of cases, it’s the product of a creative process we go through when trying to solve problems.

Once you’ve identified a social issue, speak to those affected, study the causes and consequences of the problem and challenge the status quo.  Sit down and study the problem and think of simple ways to help alleviate it. ‘Eureka’ moments come as a result of a period of incubation – we research and think about an idea consciously and, failing to come up with a solution, we let the idea incubate at the back of our minds and get on with other things.

Giving our mind a rest from the problem is actually the point many so called ‘eureka’ moments occur, hence the notion that our best ideas come to light in the shower or when we’re out walking!

Therefore, take some time aside, think about the angles of the problem – if an idea doesn’t materialise, sit on it for a while and you may find yourself shouting Eureka.

Developing an idea

Once you have an idea to solve a problem, the next step is to flesh it out into a business plan. This needn’t be a battle you have to fight yourself – there are hundreds of support channels available in Scotland for budding entrepreneurs.

The Scottish Institute for Enterprise is currently inviting young social innovators in Scotland to come forward with social innovation ideas for this Year’s Young innovators challenge – It doesn’t matter what stage their idea is at; the structure of the competition allows for tailored advice and support to help them develop their idea.

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. Winners will have the opportunity to return in August to pitch their ideas to judges for additional funding of up to £5,000. You can find out more information about the competition and enter here.

Making a difference

Of the 33 winners from last year’s competition, many have gone onto progress their ideas further, attaining further funding and support to the point where they’re carving out a career for themselves through their entrepreneurial efforts.

University of Strathclyde graduate, Chris McCann, for example, entered the competition last year with 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.

Since entering the competition Snap40 has now completed concepts of prototypes and is in the process of raising significant investment with plans to trial in NHS hospitals within the next 12 months.

If you've got an idea which could help address social issues affecting Scotland, find out more information on how you can go about developing it with Young Innovators Challenge here.



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