As the gaps in healthcare, education, literacy, and equality continue to widen, there is a great need for solutions that can help bridge the gap and deliver social impact. Innovation sourcing, which connects the right minds who can come together and solve these challenges, is crucial. There are multiple models, from open source ideation platforms to real-world physical hackathons that are increasingly becoming virtual.
Students today aren’t simply motivated by profit and want to do something that creates purpose and a positive contribution to the world.
One such organisation that does this is Open Ideo, an ‘open innovation network’ that pushes for collaboration, innovation, and support to tackle the world’s most pressing social and environmental issues. The organisation describes their approach as ‘open innovation.’ Those involved can enter ‘challenges’ that consist of ‘idea accelerators’ to connect the right people to each other and form chapters, where innovators connect locally to tackle global problems. The platform also offers a wealth of tools and resources to help innovators create impact and change. These open innovation platforms are becoming increasingly important in a world where there is a recognition that ideas do not need to be limited to an organisation’s employees alone. Lego is another organisation that clearly believes in open innovation platforms, as can be seen in some of their latest products, which have actually been crowdsourced from customers and co-collaborators.
Hackathon’s have long been a popular way for those sourcing new ideas to come together and build experimental prototypes to solve pressing issues. Traditionally used within the technology community, for computer programmers or those involved in development, hackathons are now all the rage from universities to corporates looking to gather the best minds. This is increasingly becoming a virtual game, due to Covid. Futurize is a virtual innovation studio co-founded by Rhea Singhla, which takes advantage of this model. The studio’s aim is to bring together businesses and those who have innovative ideas regarding how to tackle social issues that we face today. Futurize has now launched the virtual FinTech Fuel UK Hackathon & Startup Competition that runs from May 27-29, 2021, with the aim to help advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) by leveraging financial technology. There are two streams to this initiative. The Hackathon, which helps participants come up with new ideas and form teams with others and a Competition, aimed at entrepreneurs who already have an idea or have formed a startup. The remote hackathon will help interested organisations crowdsource ideas and hunt for talent whilst participants can form teams, come up with ideas and solutions and then pitch them to a remote panel of mentors and judges. They also give students a platform to learn and showcase their talent and are particularly useful for those with an interest in technology to be part of. The competition, on the other hand, is open to startups that have received less than £20k of funding and are less than 2 years old. The challenge is to develop a product or service that leverages financial technologies that can support UN SDG’s. Successful participants will share their ideas and create products and services that help the UN push for financial inclusion, carbon offsetting and other objectives that form part of their SDG’s, of which FinTech is a ‘key enabler.’ Technology continues to disrupt the financial services industry and empowers those who otherwise did not have access to traditional forms of banking, by making payments easier, accessible and hassle-free, through services such as mobile banking.
Singhla spoke to Erly Stage about the reason Futurize set up this event, explaining that the pandemic has had a significant impact on students not being able to find jobs, network with people outside their class, connect with investors, and having zoom fatigue on topics that aren’t particularly interesting for them. That’s why the company created FinTech Fuel. She states that this is a great opportunity for students who “want to learn more about fintech and sustainability while making a positive impact…It is a great way to get mentorship and hear exclusive insights tailored for students and young professionals from industry leaders as well as test the waters of entrepreneurship in a free and immersive setting. Whether you’re looking to get recruited, get pre-seed funding, startup a company, or just network with individuals who share similar passions to you-there’s an opportunity for everyone across multi-disciplinary backgrounds.”
The Fintech Fuel initiative contributes to two causes at once; promoting financial innovation and ideas amongst young entrepreneurs and helping achieve sustainability targets. This program is also an interactive, fun experience and provides a valuable opportunity to learn more about the industry, test skills, connect with investors, and find employment opportunities. Additionally, those who get involved will gain exclusive insights from speakers belonging to organisations such as Innovate Finance, Coinrule, Fintech Circle, Clim8, Cogo, Agriledger and many more. The two-day event is open to students and alumni (who have graduated within the last 3 years) from a UK university. Startups will be able to compete separately. Fintech Fuel’s FAQ page goes into greater detail about the event.
Connecting people who have the ideas and the means to drive change is something that many organizations have been doing for a long time. Furthermore, a large number of entrepreneurs begin their businesses in college and meet their co-founders on campus. Students today aren’t simply motivated by profit and want to do something that creates purpose and a positive contribution to the world. A number of UK universities, such as Imperial College London, Kings College London, and the University of Edinburgh have been nurturing new thinking and entrepreneurship amongst its student body. But more needs to be done to invest in students’ ideas, whether through programmes, coursework, funding or mentorship. Event’s such as Fintech Fuel by Futurize can contribute to this environment and give students an outlet to reach their potential, start new businesses, and help the world together with the UN, as they do so.