Last week I had the great pleasure to participate in the Global Graduate Entrepreneurs' Festival. Held in Manchester by United Kingdom Trade & Investment (UKTI), the Festival attracted nearly 700 applications from around the world. A lucky 175 students and graduates representing more than 40 countries were invited to spend three days in Manchester in an intensive programme of lectures, workshops and business brainstorming. At the end of the programme, 24 teams pitched to judging panels for the chance to win prizes aimed to help them launch their business ideas.
As a pitching coach, I spent a fun, fast-paced morning with 12 of the teams in quick succession. I was incredibly impressed by the quality of concepts the teams had developed over the course of just two days. Equally impressive was their enthusiasm, energy, and ability to soak in feedback and lessons quickly and adeptly. A few teams I saw stood out in particular:
-Brobotics (Festival Winners) with their sensor technology aimed at pre-emptively tackling oil pipe leaks
-Compare & Care (one of four finalists), an inspiring team of three who found a real gap in the UK health sector
-ActivEat (winners of Best Social Enterprise), evolved from Canada’s Five Hole for Food, and launching soon in the UK as Footy for Food, solving two problems in one: food bank shortages and local hunger, and youth disengagement in charity and charitable engagement with flashmob sporting events.
-New Leaf (runners up for Best Pitch), using a combined hardware and software solution to reduce standby electricity usage
These are just a few of the brilliant ideas that emerged at the festival. Ranging from sustainable, fair trade fashion, to anti-counterfeit texting systems for liquor, the international teams pooled their experience and ideas in an incredible way.
Best of all, the momentum of the Festival doesn’t end here. Manchester also played host to the launch of the Sirius Programme, a global business competition attracting budding entrepreneurs to the UK. Entries are now being accepted, and will be judged on a rolling monthly basis until 15th January. The first programme of its kind in Europe, Sirius Programme will bring winning teams to the UK, set them up in an accelerator, and support them as they build their businesses. We can’t wait to see how the world responds!
Authored by Siobhán Gibney Gomis, Director of Business Development at InnoCentive