Students generate entrepreneurial enthusiasm for social change

Ten aspiring student entrepreneurs from Plymouth University have taken part in a global intra-university challenge using technology to create solutions to global social issues.

Students taking part in the 2015 Social Storm Hackathon were given 24 hours to develop a range of projects around themes of renewable energy, gender equality and achieving internet access for all.

They were challenged to harness their creativity and use a range of sustainable business solutions to produce a comprehensive business presentation.

Social Storm is an organisation founded by enterprise educators in Plymouth, East Anglia and Loughborough, and this year’s Hackathon saw 167 students from 14 universities around the world competing for a £900 cash prize.

Amber Strong, Network Adviser in Entrepreneurship at Plymouth University’s Futures Entrepreneurship Centre, said:

“We had three teams competing this year, and they went away proud with the results of their solutions, research, time-pressured decision making and hard work. Their efforts over those 24 hours are an example to both themselves and others of what can be accomplished within a short space of time when individuals decide to make a dedicated effort to work together internationally to produce viable solutions.”

The Hackathon took place during Global Entrepreneurship Week, with students challenged to work productively with complete strangers solely using technology freely available on the internet.

Teams chose to produce a solution to one of three challenges announced on the day of the hackathon, all stemming from the UN Goals for sustainable development.

They included ways to meet Greenpeace predictions of a world solely fuelled by renewable energy by 2020, finding ways to promote the empowerment of women and girls, and providing universal and affordable access to the internet.

By the end of the 24 hours, each team needed to submit a business plan summary of their product/service solution, a video pitch, and a 250-word Foundation Statement about their team, including vision, values and how they overcame difficulties.

The winning team were ‘Excalibur’, who developed plans for a social enterprise selling condoms in the developed world and using the profits to create social change in the developing world.

Social Storm’s Co-founder, Helen Ots, added:

“We’re amazed at how much the teams achieved in under 24 hours, in developing an idea into a sustainable business model and pitch, and how many ideas they have to tackle challenges within their own society. We’re hopeful that a similar event in 2016 will bring even more universities and young people together.”

The 2015 Social Storm Hackathon

Social Storm is an organisation founded by enterprise educators in Plymouth, East Anglia and Loughborough, and this year’s Hackathon saw 167 students from 14 universities around the world competing for a £900 cash prize