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Young innovators challenged to transform society

By Fiona Godsman - Posted on 31 January 2014

Fiona Godsman, chief executive of the Scottish Institute for Enterprise explains why she’s looking to transform local communities in this year’s Young Innovators Challenge.

We are now open for applications for this year’s Young Innovators Challenge. The competition’s designed to inspire people to look at a problem from a fresh perspective and develop their own ideas to overcome it. Entrants with the best ideas will win £2,500 and support to help develop their plans. The challenge is open to all young people living in Scotland over the age of 18 in college or university education or on apprenticeship programmes.

This year we’re focusing on social innovation. Social innovation describes the use of creative and enterprising thinking to find answers to complex issues faced by individuals or the wider society. Scotland faces a number of societal problems such as rising obesity levels and other health issues, the need to find new sources of sustainable energy and the impact of technology on the way people live. Reflecting these major themes, the competition organisers are inviting entries in three categories:

• Healthcare and wellbeing
• Green and sustainable energy resources
• Smarter communities and infrastructure

Looking at one of last year’s winners you can see that the competition already has a fantastic pedigree. Victoria Hamilton, a University of Strathclyde graduate, has developed a new type of knee and joint protection. The product will be launched soon and Victoria has told us that winning the competition has been a life changing event.

“It allowed me to focus my attention on developing my designs and gave me the support and confidence to keep going. Meeting other young people who had interesting ideas was such a boost as we were able to learn from each other and share experiences.”

It’s plain that the support and exposure can make a difference for people with the right idea and we’re hoping to have a record number of entries in 2014. The deadline for applications is 26th March. The best 150 entries will each win £100 and will be invited to attend a two-day residential social innovation weekend workshop where they will be given one-to-one support from social entrepreneurs, competition organisers Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE), mentors, and academics.

The competition judges will then meet in May to select the 25 winners. The successful candidates will also be given the chance to attend an innovation boot camp, where mentors will help them fine-tune their ideas into concepts which can be scaled-up to benefit Scotland’s society and potentially add economic value.

Do you know someone who has a great idea we should hear about – maybe it’s you?



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