London students envision a greener future with Creative Hack

The two-day hackathon supported students to develop smart business ideas to make London a cleaner and greener city.

In January, university students from across London came together to take part in Creative Hack, a two-day ‘hackathon’ run in collaboration with the London College of Fashion, Birkbeck, London South Bank University, Loughborough London University, University of East London, University College London and Washington University in St Lewis.

The hackathon is an opportunity for entrepreneurial students to network and build cross-institutional collaborations, whilst generating ideas that they may go on to submit in the annual Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition.

There’s no shortage of inspirational initiatives taking place in the capital: from harnessing the steps of passers-by to generate electricity to making swim shorts from plastic waste found in the Thames, entrepreneurs play a key role in making London a greener place to live and work.

The Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition aims to continue this tradition of innovation by supporting students in London to step up to the challenge of building a truly sustainable city, offering prizes for business ideas to make London cleaner and greener.

In Creative Hack, 17 teams of students and graduates across the different universities had two days to generate ideas to solve some of the biggest environmental challenges facing London today. Teams could choose from four main themes: Environment, Smart Cities, Creative Industries or Health.

Supported by experienced entrepreneurs and experts in design, pitching and team management, teams were guided through the ‘hacking’ process, from ideation through to pitching.

The two-day hackathon culminated with teams pitching their ideas to a panel of expert judges, with the winners decided through an audience vote. The winning team, Erive, pitched an innovative alternative to power charging stations, receiving £2,500 and dedicated application support for the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition in recognition of their innovative success.

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Student Pioneers perfect their pitching skills

Aspiring entrepreneurs from across Birkbeck joined the latest Pioneer event to learn about developing confidence and performance in business pitches. 

Birkbeck’s Pioneer programme continued with a hands-on, practical session on Saturday 9 February, focused on developing enterprise students’ confidence and performance when pitching.

The session marked the halfway point of the programme, funded by Santander Universities, taking hundreds of Birkbeck students on a journey to develop their business ideas and entrepreneurial skills.

To start the day, students were given a task to pitch their idea to as many different people as possible during the regular morning coffee networking.

When the main workshop kicked off, the energy in the room was inspiring as Henry Blanchard, Speaker and Facilitator as well as Founder of Uganda International Marathon, welcomed the group of over 100 students. The initial session had everyone replicate a human yo-yo with students on their feet and back down again more times than we can remember.

Actor Jamie Satterthwaite provided a brilliant twist to the content, sharing valuable presenting tips from someone who has shared the stage with a range of impressive names. There was also an interesting warm up taking place so that students could prep their faces, voices and knees ready for a great pitch.

The activity continued with the group splitting into three smaller teams and taken through a series of mini training workshops to work in their delivery, imagination and content when pitching their business ideas.

Hugo Metcalfe, freelance speaker, writer and coach, co-ran the session with Henry and led one of the workshops while Birkbeck’s Bal Hothi and Jenna Davies joined in the action to complete the mini workshop series.

If that wasn’t enough activity, movement and energy for the morning, students were treated to more coaching to end the session with plenty of tips and advice to conquer their pitches and hone their presentation skills.

The session’s topic was particularly timely with applications now open for the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards, where students submit a two-minute video pitch about their business. It also coincides with the Pioneer competition, where students on the programme can put their skills into practice and enter their idea for the chance to pitch to a judging panel in June’s awards evening.

Pioneer continues next month and if you have any queries or would like to get in touch you can contact enterprise@bbk.ac.uk

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