I recently attended and presented at an RSA Bounce event in London, where 14 entrepreneurs bounced their ideas off an audience of Fellows interested in cutting-edge commercial and social enterprise innovation. This blog is my report of the diverse range of projects that pitched for support, ideas and connections.
Peter Bull: Practical University
An alternative, hands-on multi-skill programme for students aged 16-18 to prepare young people for life.
In a rapidly changing economy, the UK needs young people to have broad knowledge and generalist experience as they enter the world of work. The Practical University proposes short courses over a full-time, two-year period to give students a broad, hands-on education across up to 18 curriculum units, to accelerate the learning of skills and the realisation of talents.
Anna Lowe: Creating makerspaces in developing countries
A network of makerspaces in developing countries, with a focus on tech for sustainable development.
Focusing initially in Ghana, this new network will establish and nurture makerspaces for sustainable science and technology projects. Each makerspace will provide resources across the spectrum from traditional tools to 3D printing for users’ prototype ideas. Each hub will train and educate users with new skills and knowledge that will be spread beyond the makerspace to the wider community. The makerspaces are also developing ideas for engaging with local agricultural issues, to devise creative and sustainable solutions for problems regarding self-sufficiency and profitable trade.
Aaron Lawton: The Internet of Places
A smartphone app allowing local people and visitors to gain fascinating insights into local heritage features.
The scale of built urban environment can alienate people from places at a human level. There is a pressing need to develop ways of attaching intellectual access to buildings and spaces, to reconnect people to their environment and to create meaning in the physical world. Smartphones have built-in GPS functionality, so technology can tell exactly where people are. This capability can be used to teach people more about their locations and environments.
The nascent Jolabokaflod campaign builds on the Icelandic custom of buying books as gifts to be read on Christmas Eve.
The Icelandic book trade encourages people to buy books as Christmas presents to be read over the festive season: a rush of activity called Jólabókaflóð (Christmas book flood). A new grassroots, interactive book purchase and reading campaign which embraces all faiths and none – called Jolabokaflod – seeks to build on this Icelandic tradition, to spread the word that books make great gifts to mark festive occasions and are worthy of reading straightaway. This wider Jolabokaflod initiative will promote the message ‘Buy, Give, Read’.
Books given as presents this year can use Jolabokaflod bookplate inserts (download PDF for free here).
A social innovation project bringing invisible disability to the forefront of mainstream media.
Many health conditions are invisible and do not manifest themselves physically. This can lead to public scorn and discrimination. Chronically Driven seeks to address prejudice where it occurs and to provide support and encouragement to people with conditions who, on good days, can function relatively well by developing a support network for sharing stories and experiences and to share data, news and reviews of helpful technology. They seek to showcase work and highlight individual breakthroughs via digital exhibitions and to encourage members of the network to meet online and develop friendships.
A series of events and workshops to help encourage young girls and women into senior roles in business.
Girls Talk London is an online magazine resource linked to a marketing consultancy, gender diversity agency and events management company. They provide aspirational stories and advice for young women of all ages. They wish to expand their services by launching a section of the Girls Talk London website that is dedicated to helping women with their careers, highlighting professional job opportunities and role-model profiles.
A startup to spread the message of the Experience Revolution.
Gifts are a problem: in today’s consumerist age, no one knows what to buy as presents and everyone has too much stuff. People don’t find happiness in things; they yearn to find fulfilment through memorable experiences. The materialistic world needs to become experiential. Group Hug addresses the problem of ‘stuffication’ – having too much stuff – by enabling friends and relatives (group huggers) to contribute online toward the total cost of fabulous, maybe life-changing experiences.
Providing incubator opportunities, mentors, hot desks and crèche facilities for parent entrepreneurs and flexible workers.
RSA Catalyst winning project Bloomsbury Beginnings is a community of parents who wish to enable flexible work programmes so there is time for family life. They provide opportunities for entrepreneurial parents and carers with young children to remove the obstacles to starting and running businesses. Bloomsbury Beginnings run incubator programmes, pair people with mentors, provide office space for parents on the go, and enable carers to leave their children in crèche facilities whilst they concentrate on work projects or attend meetings. They are currently expanding their existing mentor programme, with support from the RSA.
Open Senses is an event that celebrates human senses: it comprises a symposium, and many expositions, installations and performances all over London.
Open Senses is inspired by workshops about body language delivered by deaf trainers. These workshops share expertise developed by deaf people in reading gestures, body positions and expressions, as well as the techniques required to lip-read effectively. Open Senses expands such sessions into a programme of events, performance art and workshops, to celebrate human senses and to help people to learn to use them more consciously when making business decisions.
Public service delivery using avatars and online 3D environments to save money and improve access and employment for people with autism and complex needs.
Hao2.eu uses the latest digital technology to create 3D virtual worlds. They encourage groups with disabilities, especially autism, to engage with 3D environments to make better sense of the real world that surrounds them. Hao2.eu is launching a 3D environment where autistic people (and everyone else) can use avatars in cyberspace to connect with public services in stress-free ways.
Developing an arts-based learning, circuited framework to help bridge the creativity gap.
There is a creativity gap between schools and the world of work: somewhere in the transition, art is squeezed out of people’s consciousness. Businesses need to foster fun environments where creativity is nurtured, supported and rewarded. Art is as way of building confidence. Adults need to overcome the received wisdom that they are not artists. Art for Work’s Sake workshops reconnect people to the creativity of their childhoods, to overcome obstacles, recharge emotional energy and find creative solutions to real-world issues.
An adaptation of the Business Model Canvas needs testing for social enterprises.
Creative marketing agency, Make Happy, enables social entrepreneurs to map out business models that work. Until recently, the company has used a combination of Alexander Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas and Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas when working with social-enterprise startup clients. Feedback showed the Make Happy team, however, that this approach leaves gaps unaddressed. Acting on this intelligence, they created a Social Enterprise Canvas specifically designed for social entrepreneurs. Make Happy are now testing the canvas with volunteer social-enterprise entrepreneurs and organisations.
A customer-insights project harnessing the power of visual thinking, designed to give ethical consumers a louder voice.
Building on experience of conducting the Global Millennial Survey, Téléfonica is currently piloting a visual census to measure the happiness of consumers and businesses by eliciting non-literate, inner-child responses. The census will reveal practical implications for conducting business ethically, especially for social enterprises.
Creating the world’s first prestige fashion brand with a ‘fairshare’ business model and a fully transparent, ethical and sustainable supply-chain.
Tengri merges an ethical ethos with a premium, textile product: the designing of clothes using yak wool fibres. The production cycle is inherently sustainable and there is transparency at every point of the supply-chain: the brand champions eco-friendly processes and a fairshare business model. Tengri aims to creative a new heritage brand: a luxury product, sourced ethically, that rewards every worker in the supply chain.
I invite and encourage Fellows to contact these entrepreneurs via their MyRSA Profiles and to spread their ideas using social media. The RSA will be running their next Bounce event in London on 23 February, you can sign up here. If you have any questions, please contact Mark Hall: [email protected]
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