Revolutionary Measures

A weekend to change the world (part 2)

Judge Business School, Cambridge, England.

At a time when the world seems full of young companies aiming to be the next Facebook, it is easy to write off technology startups as predominantly pointless pipe dreams that won’t contribute anything meaningful to society.

But the good news is that the power of technology can change the world. Whether it is in education, improving the environment, revolutionising healthcare or helping communities the power of technologies such as the internet, mobile telephony and even social networks can change many people’s lives for the better.

Unlocking these ideas and giving them the help and support they need to take realise their potential is the mission of Idea Transform. A Cambridge-based initiative, backed by the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (CfEL) it supports meaningful startups through events and mentoring.

Run by a stellar organising team (including myself), the first Idea Transform weekend attracted over 100 entrepreneurs, developers, students, business people and mentors. 26 ideas were pitched on the Friday evening and teams then formed to work on projects, which were judged on the Sunday evening. Projects spanned healthcare, education, the environment and community.

The range of ideas was astounding – from in-road electric charging to biometric identification for healthcare. What united them was that they all had the potential to change the world – and a plan for achieving it. Attendees threw themselves into the weekend, bringing their skills to bear on helping develop the ideas, ably supported by our experienced mentors and inspiring speakers.

The great news is that Idea Transform 2013 is now up and running. It will be held between 15-17 March 2013 at the Cambridge Judge Business School and promises to be as exciting and exhilarating as the 2012 edition.

Whether you’ve got an idea that you want to work on or have skills or energy that can help develop projects, take a look at www.ideatransform.org and come along in March. With high level speakers and experienced mentors, you’ll learn new skills, meet new contacts, have fun and contribute to making the world a better place. Sign up now!

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November 28, 2012 Posted by | Cambridge, Startup | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Idea Transform – where are they now?

idea

idea (Photo credit: Tony Dowler)

Technology has the potential to deliver immense benefits to society in areas in diverse as healthcare, education and transport. The first Idea Transform weekend, held in Cambridge in April, aimed to unlock this potential, providing the skills and mentoring to turn ideas into reality.

So what’s been happening in the last three months? To find out Idea Transform held a meet up last week to give the chance for projects to discuss their process, and attendees to catch up. As an added bonus, Nic Lawrence of Light Blue Optics shared his thoughts on the startup experience and what lessons he’d learnt over the last eight years. Be hungry, keep learning, ask questions (both of yourself and other people) and build an outstanding team and culture if you want to succeed.

Two of the winning teams, Sim-Prints and Imvoto provided an update on progress, while Michele Mattioni talked about his project to link local food producers with their local buyers, which he pitched at Idea Transform and has been working on subsequently.

Sim-Prints uses a combination of finger-print biometrics and mobile phones to enable healthcare workers to collect and check patient information in the developing world. Winners of both the overall and healthcare prizes at the Idea Transform event the project has moved forward and is currently looking to create a prototype, while continuing to talk to both investors and foundations/NGOs to fund next steps. It has also made important decisions about structure, adopting the social enterprise model and abandoning the idea of patenting its technology, instead focusing on the delivery of the system.

Mobile learning provider Imvoto has also used the lessons learnt at Idea Transform to refine its project. Imvoto allows teachers to set maths questions for pupils to answer on mobile devices, enabling them to monitor attainment quickly and easily. In response to feedback from mentors, Imvoto has introduced adaptive testing to the product – meaning that future questions are made either harder or easier depending on a pupil’s answers as well as completely rewriting the teacher module. Following initial testing Imvoto is looking to launch a full beta programme in September.

So three months after Idea Transform, the good news is that most of the winning projects – and several that never made it past the pitch stage at the weekend are both still going strong and seem to be well on-track to help turn their promise into reality. Watch this space for more updates as they develop………..

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July 10, 2012 Posted by | Cambridge, Startup | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Transforming ideas over the weekend

Last weekend saw the first Idea Transform event, which aimed to uncover new ideas and projects that have the potential to change society for the better. As one of the founders of Idea Transform I’m obviously biased, but all the feedback I had was that everyone that came along learnt lots, worked hard in their teams and had fun at the same time.

Over 100 people attended the weekend in Cambridge, which saw ideas pitched on Friday evening and then teams formed to develop them before judging on Sunday evening. While four teams were selected as winners in the different categories of education, health, community and environment everyone deserves congratulations for the hard work and their achievements.

Rather than bang on about the success of the event, I’d like to share three things that stood out for me:

1              Amazing range of ideas
Over 25 ideas were pitched on Friday night, from mobile learning through technology to calibrate medical devices and an avatar for online clothes shopping. The nine teams that made it to the end of the weekend included charging electric vehicles through the road, experimental maths teaching and mobile phone based biometics. Not just apps and websites!

2              Commitment and support
For all these projects, the idea itself was just a start point. Thanks to their own hard work and the support of the team of experienced mentors, who gave up their weekends to help, projects had really progressed by Sunday evening and the final presentations were incredibly professional and well constructed.

3              Ideas with legs
The aim of Idea Transform is to support projects to help them grow after the weekend, with mentoring, support and advice for all the winners. Sim-Prints, the overall winners, were awarded three months membership of the ideaSpace Enterprise Accelerator and two teams now have the chance to pitch for funding from the Cambridge Angels. Outside of this I saw lots of connections being made that will help projects meet the right people to progress and real enthusiasm amongst everyone to move things forward. I’m confident that at least one of the teams will grow into a fully fledged business in the future.

So it was an exhilarating, exhausting and packed weekend – finally I’d like to thank all the other organisers, our sponsors, particularly ARM, Red Gate Software and BlackBerry, supporters including the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (CfEL), mentors, judges, volunteers and speakers for making the first weekend to change the world a weekend to remember.

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April 25, 2012 Posted by | Cambridge, Startup | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Unlocking innovation for the good of us all

An unashamed plug this week for Idea Transform, an event I’m helping organise between 20-22 April 2012 (so just a week’s time, depending on when you read this).

Essentially Idea Transform aims to support people with bright ideas that use technology to benefit society in general – whether in the fields of healthcare, education, environment or the community.

While technology has lowered the barriers to turning ideas into reality, the majority of potential projects still come unstuck along the way – either because they are missing a crucial skillset or lack the mentoring support to help overcome inevitable hurdles.

Idea Transform will help these ideas through a combination of events and ongoing mentoring. The first weekend bootcamp event (20-22 April, Cambridge Judge Business School, tickets at www.ideatransform.org) will bring together those with ideas and people with business, development, marketing and creative skills to help them. People pitch their ideas on Friday evening, teams form and then work on ideas over the course of the weekend, before a high profile judging session on Sunday evening. Winners get the opportunity to develop their ideas through mentoring, support and the chance to potentially pitch for funding from the Cambridge Angels.

And for anyone worried that it will just be a weekend of hard work, there will be the chance to network, have fun, listen to high profile speakers and get advice from a team of experienced mentors. We’ve already heard about a whole range of ideas, from mobile health tracking using biometric technology to mobile and experimental maths learning to mapping the disused rail network so we can put it to better use, and there are bound to be many more pitched on the evening itself.

It promises to be an exhilarating, exciting and enjoyable experience – take a look at www.ideatransform.org and I hope to see you there.

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April 12, 2012 Posted by | Cambridge, Startup | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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