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The winners of SIE’s ‘I’m an Innovator’ competition gathered at Loch Lomond last weekend for the Winners Bootcamp to take their innovation ideas from concept to reality.

Over 100 entries were received back in April, with entrants completing an application, attending an innovation workshop and submitting a challenging video pitch before reaching the final. 14 ideas were represented in this final stage of the competition, ranging from new products and services to improve social inclusion, education and innovative products to improve general health & fitness or manage medical conditions.

Kicking things off on Saturday morning was Mel Sherwood, Director of Grow Your Potential, who delivered a talk covering a wide range of relevant topics, from taking ownership of your idea to presentation skills, and vocal warm up exercises.

The afternoon session was led by Xpand founder, Juergen Kast, and focussed on developing entrepreneurial skills and strengths to drive your idea forward, which roused some further questions from the captive audience of winners.

The finalists worked on their ideas over the weekend, before making their final pitches to a panel of young social entrepreneurs (and SIE alumni!); Fergus Moore & Scott Kennedy co-founders of Revive Eco and Stephen Spiers co-founder of Studio2080 and Power a Life.


 CEO Fiona Godsman with Scott Kennedy (left), Stephen Spiers (center) and Fergus Moore (right.)

 The final winners of the ‘I’m an Innovator’ Competition are:

1st prize: £1000, Alex Rollings & Alison Cunningham, University of Strathclyde

Winning entry: Innobox, which uses storytelling and problem solving to encourage a child’s interest in STEM subjects.

 2nd Prize: £750, Glen McMurchy, University of Strathclyde

Winning entry: A new modular design for wind towers.

3rd Prize: £500, Liam McMorrow, University of Aberdeen,

Winning entry: A new device to help diabetics manage insulin dosages.

Highly Commended: £250, Simon Griffiths, Edinburgh College

Idea: A support package to help young people cope with renal dialysis.

Highly Commended: £250, Heather Guyan, University of Strathclyde

Idea: An innovative ‘ear defender’ to support learning in special needs environments.

Highly Commended: £250, David White, University of Strathclyde

Idea: A new bodyweight fitness training product.


The competition finalists who pitched to judges were:

  •  Alice Kettle, Edinburgh College of Art
  • Susan Drummond & Kirsty Johnson, University of Strathclyde
  • Robin Irvine and Ciorstaidh MacGillivray, University of St Andrews
  • Thomas Reid, University of the West of Scotland
  • Karthik Ramesh, Glasgow School of Art
  • Jonny Ingledew & Kate MacDonald, Heriot-Watt University
  • Hui Chi Yan, University of Edinburgh
  • Alina Mikhailova, University of Edinburgh.

Well done everyone – we can’t wait to see how your winning ideas progress!

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.

YIC2015 Bootcamp Collage

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!

‘Bootcamp:14 – The Innovation Experience Lab’ took place at the beginning of July at Stirling University with a new focus on innovative thinking.  After a thorough introduction to the concepts, students worked closely with Scottish Charities and social enterprises on real issues the organisations face. Ann Davidson, SIE Enterprise Programme Director, talks about the rationale behind the revised residential Bootcamp programme and what students got from the experience.


In previous years, SIE’s annual bootcamps have offered students the chance to fast track their business ideas. Whilst proving beneficial to the students in a number of different ways, the format was not without its challenges, with students all at varying stages in the exploration and development of their idea. Many students were highly committed to their ideas but had made the classic mistake of falling in love with their idea and expecting everyone else to do the same, often with no clear idea of who their idea would benefit and the value proposition underpinning it.

The rationale behind this year’s bootcamp was to introduce the students to a number of innovative thinking tools and techniques. Getting them to explore them in practice to develop new products and services with a customer voice at the heart of them. Tools that they could then apply to their own areas of study and interest to look for opportunities for a  new venture of their own.  Then bringing together the core tenets of human centred design thinking and the business model canvas, they moved on to apply their innovative thinking skills to solving real life challenges for local social enterprises and charities and to find innovation within their existing business models. Getting practical experience of the skills being sought by graduate employers.

SIE often asks its students to play to their edge and SIE was playing to its own edge by changing the established format of its bootcamp, especially when we discovered that by involving social enterprises and charities we had to introduce students to double sided business models and identifying social and economic impacts. Something the students got quickly up to speed on. It is an approach that seems to have worked with student feedback overwhelmingly positive with regard to confidence gained,the development of an enterprising mind-set and problems solving skills, and the ability to work well in teams. Students also left with a personal profile of their key skills and attributes and how they could maximise these in a team situation to bring about greater levels of innovation.

For students with an existing idea , the bootcamp has allowed them to reflect in their own time and to go back and look at the level at which they came up with their innovation. Can they raise that bar by looking to see where the customer’s voice is within their idea? Is there a minimum viable prototype they can get into the wind tunnel to test to destruction before they even choose a possible business model and write their business model?

For students yet to develop an idea, they took away the self-knowledge that their initial idea does not have to be perfect before they look to act upon it and ask for help in exploring and developing it with the help of support networks offered by their HEI and SIE. And, regardless of whether the students go onto set up their own business in the next few months or even years, they all enhanced their employability skills ‘

bootcamp pic2 Pitching at Bootcamp:14 Bootcamp:14 participants Bootcamp:14



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