“This is exactly what Plymouth needs”
Gregg Harding, Coach at Plymouth Startup Weekend, from Access to Finance
The first ever Techstars Startup Weekend Plymouth took place at the end of April, on the theme of health and wellbeing, and was a pilot for a series of Startup Weekends which will be delivered by the University over the next three years as part of iMayflower. The event was organised by the University of Plymouth’s The Bridge initiative alongside Google-backed start-up supporters Techstars, with support from the Real Ideas Organisation (RIO), Plymouth Science Park and the EPIC project, which is also led by the University.
In total the event involved around 50 people including coaches, judges, attendees and other supporting roles, and resulted in five teams working full-time over the course of the weekend. With 54 hours to build a startup, Friday saw participants pitching ideas, before voting on which ones to take forward, and forming teams to work together over the weekend.
“The startup and innovation ecosystem is thriving in Plymouth. You can feel this.”
Cindy Spelt, Techstars Facilitator
Two full days followed, with teams living and breathing their startup ideas as they worked together, ate together and received fantastic support from expert coaches. The weekend culminated in teams presenting their businesses to a panel of judges on Sunday, before awards were handed out and everyone celebrated with a final meal and drink together.
The ideas which were developed over the weekend included:
- MemoryPad – A mindful photography app, aimed at parents.
- One-Link-One – A peer to peer connection app aimed at students.
- EmpowerMe – An app/network for people to track their wellbeing.
- The Gaming Bunker – Gaming network to help tackle mental health in young males/gamers.
- AI Cataract – An idea about using AI to detect cataracts and enable significant cost reduction in the NHS.
“Dealing with the challenges facing society requires an approach that is both creative, and makes full use of the latest advances in technology. Plymouth’s first Startup Weekend is a great opportunity for anyone who has an idea, but may not be certain how to put it into practice.”
Chris Bennewith, Head of the School of Art, Design and Architecture
With prizes to help them develop their idea further, the winning team (MemoryPad) and runner up (One-Link-One) will continue to work on their startup ideas. Prizes to support their continued development include working space, marketing support, support with a crowdfunder campaign, a pitch at Venturefest SW and coaching. Fourteen judges and coaches supported the weekend from companies such as Vualto, Evident and Software Cornwall (to name a few!) and everyone who took part is looking forward to the next event and the future of this series in Plymouth.
“Truly a magical experience for anyone who loves an idea and wants to share it with the world”
Ben Cole, attendee who was part of the winning team ‘MemoryPad’
The startup weekend, held at Ocean Studios, was both a great reflection the entrepreneurial talent which already exists in Plymouth (Young Entrepreneur Networking in Plymouth - YENA, Enactus and much more) but also a sign of things to come as the University and our partners seek to build a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem for the Creative Economy in the coming years.
“Experiences like this have the power to transform peoples’ lives. In the coming years we will see significant investments being made into creative and cultural economic development across the city; we need make that success work better for everyone in Plymouth”
Rupert Lorraine, Development and Partnership Manager (Creative Economy)
“It's so exciting that this is only the beginning for Plymouth; more of these affordable and innovative events will be coming to Plymouth in the future, which means more opportunities for students, creatives and those with entrepreneurial minds! You don't have to be in the 'big cities' to have access to big opportunities anymore, they are coming to us!”
Katie Stote, Student blogger and event volunteer