Students sign up for virtual challenge on global issues

Students from the University of Plymouth will be investigating the power of collaboration as a way of solving complex issues when they take part in a major global initiative.

The University – through the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre – is one of the founding partners of Social Storm, an international competition which encourages students from across the world to communicate virtually as a means to finding solutions for real-life problems.

Held since 2014, this year’s event will take place on November 11 and 12, as part of the build-up to Global Entrepreneurship Week.

For this year, students from Plymouth will be joining more than 200 others in eight countries (Argentina, UK, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Finland, Ghana and India) to form a number of multi-national teams.

They will then work together over 24 hours to design a product or service that addresses one of two issues stemming from the United Nations’ Global Goals – food security or sustainable housing.

Dr Marta Hawkins, Director of the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre, said:

“We are very passionate about student entrepreneurship here in Plymouth, and it is embedded through our courses, academic research and a range of extra-curricular activity. As the first university to be awarded a Social Enterprise Mark, we also have an especially proud history of encouraging social entrepreneurship and this event brings together students who share an enthusiasm for employing that as a sustainable way of making our world a better place.”

For the competition, each team come up with their product or service and then produce a summary business plan and three-minute video pitch. They must also devise a 250-word Foundation Statement about their team, including its vision, values and how they overcame difficulties.

The Plymouth students will be supported throughout by mentoring from Futures’ Entrepreneurs in Residence, Gareth Hart and Raphael Dennett, while Igniting Enterprise, the University’s award-winning student enterprise society, will also be helping to coordinate the event.

Amber Strong, Student Entrepreneurship Assistant at the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre, said:

“Igniting Enterprise’s vice-president Feyi Ogunyeye took part in both the 2014 and 2015 Social Storm hackathons, and I know how much they are looking forward to sharing their love of the challenging experience this year. They will also be able to pass on their knowledge of how much can be achieved in only one day when students’ creativity and resourcefulness is unleashed while using technology to collaborate around the world, virtually.”

Plymouth Development Programme 

Futures have been commissioned by Plymouth City Council to deliver a range of activities across the city and as a result have delivered social enterprise workshops to staff and students and to local social entrepreneurs at introductory and advanced levels. Futures have also provided webinars and conferences to a national audience on a range of social enterprise topics.

SEEDBED Accelerator

As a strategic and operational partner in this Cabinet Office funded accelerator programme for social enterprises, we manage a million pound budget providing a range of loans and business support to second stage social enterprises in the South West of England. 

Global Impact Research project

Futures has been commissioned by the British Council to undertake a seminal piece of research to survey Higher Education Institutions across the globe to map and analyse their engagement with social enterprise in each of their countries. An interim report will be published in May 2016, and a final report in December 2016.

ESSE programme

Futures are partners in an Erasmus Plus programme, together with partners across Europe developing and promoting social enterprise teaching tools for vocational students and development organisations. The tools will be accredited and available across Europe in 2017.
Find out more information on the ESSE website.

Higher Education dialogues

Futures are involved in two international dialogues with colleagues in India and Thailand on the role of HEIs and social enterprise development in Delhi and in Bangkok. As a result we have developed a memorandum of Understanding with Centurion University in Odisha, India, and have been asked to provide an initial short course in Thailand in 2016