Three teams of innovative young Scots are getting ready to do battle when they pitch their creative ideas to tackle the global problem of air pollution in front of some of the country's leading innovators, entrepreneurs and investors at Venturefest Scotland – Scotland’s annual innovation summit – on 1 September.
The teams, known as Futuristic 5, Ninions and Project Airtech, were the winning trio at VentureJam 2016, the official youth strand for Venturefest, which took place on 5-7 August at Glasgow Science Centre and was delivered by Young Scot, Glasgow City of Science and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
The innovative hackathon-style event saw teams of young people aged 14-20 years design and develop innovative new ideas to help improve Scotland's air quality, whilst driving home the message that we all have a part to play in achieving this goal. The innovative ideas that the teams came up with included a photosynthesis bicycle, a fan that filters air and a map-based app that shows you ‘clean air’ routes around the city. Reward schemes promoting positive choices for creating more sustainable lifestyles featured heavily in the ideas generated by several of the young teams.
Throughout VentureJam, the would-be entrepreneurs were supported by a team of mentors made up of engineers, creatives and technologists as well as legal and environmental experts.
The three winning teams are now getting ready to pitch their best ideas from the Jam weekend, Dragon's Den-style, to top innovation experts at Venturefest Scotland in the hope of persuading them to back their concepts. The winning team will receive an investment from Social Investment Scotland (SIS), and all three finalists will benefit from a session with an SIS investment manager to help them realise their ideas.
The youngsters’ pitches will form part of the Pitchfest! stream of Venturefest, where delegates will have the opportunity to learn how to pitch, find out why pitching matters, learn how to use pitching as a means to find ideas to solve a problem and see how others pitch to funders and what those funders might want to know.
To build excitement ahead of the VentureJam youth pitch, and to raise awareness of the importance of taking positive action to tackle air pollution, a projected animation by Double Take Projections will be beamed onto the Glasgow City Chambers, the Clyde Auditorium and Cineworld IMAX at Glasgow Science Centre on the evening of Tuesday 30th August.
Dr Susie Mitchell, programme director of Glasgow City of Science, said: "VentureJam 2016 brought together young people from a wide range of backgrounds (from music and the arts to gaming and the environment) to come up with radical new ideas to improve the air we breathe. The young people were guided by leading figures from the world of television, gaming, product design and 3D animation. It was an inspirational weekend and I can’t wait to see the teams in action at Venturefest. If Venturejam reflects the future of innovation in Scotland, then the future is bright."
Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive of Young Scot, said: "Every one of the teams that took part in VentureJam came up with ideas of a very high standard – the potential investors at Venturefest now have a very difficult decision to make. Any one of these talented young people could be a successful entrepreneur of the future."
Alastair Davis, Chief Executive of Social Investment Scotland said: "At Social Investment Scotland we're committed to supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs and that’s why we are delighted to be supporting VentureJam as part of this year’s Venturefest. We know that the next generation of Scotland’s entrepreneurs who care not only about making a profit but also about the world and their impact in it and that’s why we’re particularly keen to support these young people as they take their next steps on this journey."
Dr Colin Gillespie, principal air scientist at SEPA said: "Poor air quality has been reported as contributing to thousands of premature deaths across the UK every year. The Scottish Government’s Cleaner Air for Scotland Strategy (CAFS) wants to tackle this problem head-on and make Scotland’s air quality the best in Europe. Involving young people and allowing them to lead on the air pollution message they feel should be delivered, or what the solutions could be, is a very effective way to raise awareness of the problem of poor air quality. It’s great to contribute to this year's VentureJam, with talented young people who genuinely care about this extremely important issue. I wish the winning teams all the best for Venturefest."
Bailie Elaine McDougall, Glasgow City Council's executive member for Transport, Environment and Sustainability, said: "Glasgow has set a target of being one of the most sustainable cities in Europe and we take our responsibility to monitor air quality very seriously. While we have made very good progress we recognise that there is more to be done. Initiatives such as VentureJam are a great way of engaging with younger people on important issues and gives them the opportunity to be creative, innovative and come up with ideas and solutions which could ultimately help the city reduce air pollution levels and improve the health of its citizens."
VentureJam 2016 was supported by Scottish Government, SEPA, Social Investment Scotland, Glasgow City Council, Developing the Young Workforce Glasgow, Scotland’s Environment Web, Murgitroyd, Perceptive Communicators and Glasgow Science Centre.