And the winner is…

Stress Buddy receiving the award from the judges
Thanks to Sam Parnell for this image

48 hours. One mission. And in the end, one overall winner, team Stress Buddy take the Innovate Suffolk May, 2019 trophy and £500 grand prize.

There’ll be lots more in the days and weeks ahead, both on the May weekend and on our next weekend in November and meetups and opportunities to connect in between.

Every team is a winning team. It’s crazy, impossible surely, to progress an idea in 48 hours. But you did it. You all made amazing progress. You amazed the mentors, impressed the judges, and said you’d love to do the same again and encourage others to come along next time!

We’ll be collecting feedback, seeing what worked and what wasn’t so smooth, and we’ll use that learning. After we catch up on sleep! Enjoy Bank Holiday Monday, and let’s keep building: building connections, building aspiration, building trust, building ideas and startups and sustainability. We’re building a Suffolk that embraces, celebrates and supports entrepreneurial communities.

And we can only do that together.

Thanks again. Congratulations, Stress Buddy. We’re excited for what lies ahead!


Judging Criteria

Scales - from by user Rojal, used under CC4.0 BY-NC

Judging Criteria for May, 2019

The Judges will be invited to consider team pitches by the following criteria:

  • Impact of pitch (5 points)
  • Evidence of innovation (5 points)
  • Progress made over the weekend (5 points)
  • Addresses one or more "emotional needs" as set out in Resources (10 points)
  • Startup potential (15 points)

There is no specific form we expect the final pitch to take. However, teams are encouraged to note (and judges will be invited to consider) the questions and suggestions for progressing the pitch and project set on this page

The decision of the Judges is final, and no correspondence will be entered into.

Good luck to you all!

Pitching Panels

How do pitching panels work?

Great question, because a distinctive feature of Innovate Suffolk is that pitching to panels of mentors is the heartbeat of our events.

(If you haven’t looked at the Mentors post recently, now is a great moment, because that will tell you the values our mentors commit to, and what they should and shouldn’t do to help you!)

For a typical 48 hour Friday evening to Sunday evening event:

  • Friday evening you’re pitching to each other
  • Saturday during the day you’ll pitch twice to mentor panels, and once in an “open panel” with everyone invited
  • Sunday during the day you’ll pitch twice to mentor panels, and then you’re pitching to the judges
Here’s what we’re looking to help you achieve over the weekend:

Saturday Morning

Idea, Roles, Endpoint

Do you have an idea you can express clearly, in just a few words?
Are you working as a team?
Do you have an idea of where you'd like to get by judging (and beyond)?
Get help with ideas

Saturday Afternoon

Plan, Test, Refine

Do you have a workable plan for the weekend?
Have you identified your assumptions and ways to test them out?
Are you building connections to the outside world?

Saturday Evening

Open to all

Tell Your Story

Is your story clear & engaging?
Can you quickly show WHO it's for, WHAT problem you are targeting, HOW you will solve it, WHERE you will find your target audience and WHY your product will be valuable?

Sunday Morning

Pace & Focus

Do you have evidence that you've found a real problem?
Can you demonstrate that your project will solve that problem?
How will you make use of the remaining time to become compelling?

Sunday Afternoon

Finishing Touches

Do you have an outline for your final 5 minute pitch to the judges?
Can you tell your story well and show evidence of traction?
How can you leverage Suffolk Mind's "Emotional Needs" resource?

Sunday Evening


Good Luck!

You have 5 minutes to pitch
then 10 minutes of Q&A
and then it's over to the judges!


What kind of ideas can I work on?

Our theme is the important and under-served area of mental health, so we hope that many teams will choose that as a point of focus. However, we suggest that (unless you are an expert in that field), teams looking to support positive mental health outcomes use the resources provided by Suffolk Mind. These highlight nine emotional needs (such as Respect – feeling valued by others and Privacy — time and space to ourselves) as well as eight Internal (innate) resources. 

So we suggest that, rather than trying to think of an idea that will impact mental health directly, you can think of how people could be helped to add more (say) privacy to their working day, or to (say) have opportunities to earn the respect of their local community. The judges, in choosing a winner, won’t be making a judgement on whether your idea will produce a positive mental health impact, but on criteria including which one or more of those needs your idea addresses, and what evidence you have gathered that your project could make an impact.

Note that you don’t have to follow our theme. What you work on is up to you, as is whether (or how) to incorporate into your pitch to the judges your case for addressing one or more of those nine emotional needs or tapping in to those eight internal resources.

(Want to find a way to flesh out an idea, or to systematically generate new and potentially viable ideas? Try this post.)

Who will choose the teams?

You will. That is, it’s up to you to decide who you want to work with. We’ll help you make that decision (in a fun and fair way), and if your ideas change and develop as you interact with each other and the outside world, so much the better!

What form can our project take?

Your project could be an app, or a website, or an online space. It could be a tangible product, a range of foods, a series of events or a cafe. It could be… anything!

We’ll help you refine, test and progress your ideas, as a team, in the time you have, with the skills and resources available to you. And you’re free to “get out of the building,” whether that’s going and talking to people in Ipswich to test your ideas or ask about their experiences, or reaching out online. 


The “hackathon” style is very familiar to many in the software world, but at its core is a philosophy that says, let’s move from interesting ideas to sketches and prototypes, and let’s test our work by engaging with other people. We think that most teams will decide to use tools such as websites to showcase their ideas, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t win unless your team includes designers and coding experts. And mentors are on hand to help at every stage, so that you can bring your ideas to life


Mentor by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

What makes a great mentor?

In a recent article for Forbes Magazine, Patricia Duchene noted five values she says that great mentors share:

  1. Accessibility – being available
  2. Authenticity – genuinely interested to help you on your journey
  3. Objectivity – giving honest feedback and being ready to challenge as well as praise
  4. Continual Learning – open to new ideas and responsive to change
  5. Values – such as respect, honesty and kindness

At our events, we ask that all our mentors agree to work in accordance with these values.

Mentors should:

Help you to identify areas you are making assumptions - and how these can be tested

Be willing to offer a different viewpoint (and mentors may often disagree!)

Help you to find resources you need that will help you on your journey

Respect your decisions and leave you in control of your project

Mentors shouldn't

Tell you what to do, why or how to do it, or why your project can't or shouldn't progress!

Outstay their welcome or interrupt your team and insist on being heard

Forget your objectives and your need to prioritise activities over the course of the event

Allow you to feel that because they have spoken, that must be right!

We hope and expect that mentors will enjoy their time, and we ask that team members respect that mentors are volunteers offering you their time, wisdom and connections in order to help you and the wider Innovate Suffolk mission of making our county the best place to start and grow businesses!

Scott’s Challenge

Scott Russell is Founder and CEO of Paddy & Scott’s. We asked him to talk about his life as a business owner and entrepreneur, and how he would advise anyone who’s wondering whether to try to build their own business.

Make ideas that make businesses

Just Do It :)

We all have ideas. How can you tell if your idea might make a great business? Tricky. Let’s try an easier question:

How can you deliberately make an idea that could make a great business?

Here’s a simple framework to help you do just that. It takes fifteen minutes to watch. Then try it out. If it works, boom! There’s an idea you could pitch at our hackathon. If it doesn’t, or if you’re not sure how to make it work in your situation, tell us, because we’re learning too.