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!


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.

Is it OK to make money out of mental health?

Puzzled Kitty photo by Flickr user PlasticRevolver

Puzzled Kitty photo by Flickr user PlasticRevolverIt sounds like a real ethical dilemma, right? Or does it?

Let’s come at this another way.

Is it OK to make money from a tool that makes someone’s job easier? I mean, it depends on the job, and it depends on the tool, but I have no problem with the people behind Microsoft. I’m glad I have Word to use. It saves me time. It costs me money. That’s fine.

So is it OK to make money from a service that makes someone’s life better? Same reservations, naturally. And again, I have no beef with the teams at eBay or Etsy or Snapchat or Amazon getting paid, even if I might like to see companies like those pay more attention to their social responsibility.

Is it OK to help someone with mental health challenges improve their own life? Well, duh. But bring money into the picture and it feels different.

Personalise it.

All things being equal, would you rather work for a global superpower brand to help them make an extra 0.0001% annual profit, or would you rather work to improve people’s lives?

And, do you think that nobody should be allowed to work in the mental health field except as an unpaid volunteer?

What’s happening (I think) is that, in this field, our conscience starts saying, there may be ethical boundaries. And that’s worrying, because it suggests that in other parts of our lives we’ve learned to switch off our ethics. Yes, there are ethical boundaries. And yes, they’re there in your job, in your home, in your life as a consumer, everywhere.

I think your best self might want to do some good in the world. And if you could, I think you should have the option to get rewarded for that.

You can make money doing good. You can do good by making money. And we’re helping you try that out.

You don’t need to be an expert in mental health. In fact, unless you are, we’d like you to forget pretty much everything you think you know about it, and look down these 9 headings to spot one that resonates with you, that you know something about:

  • Security – to feel safe and secure
  • Control — and to recognise what we can’t control
  • Attention — to give and receive it
  • Emotional Connection to others
  • Community
  • Respect — feeling valued by others
  • Privacy — time and space to ourselves
  • Achievement
  • Meaning & Purpose

If you can invent (on paper, in your head, in software, out of clay, anywhere you like) something that might help any one of these areas, even just a little bit then guess what? You could be helping people improve their own mental health.

“What if my idea’s stupid?” Guess what? All of us have ideas, and most of our ideas won’t work the way we think they might. Put a bunch of highly-motivated people in a room. Form them into teams. Help them pick an idea, develop it out, improve it, engage other people, start with bad and make it better and better and better, then pitch it and maybe win a £500 team prize.

That’s what Innovate Suffolk is: a place to turn ideas into businesses, faster than you’ve ever dreamed possible.

Join us!

Peter’s Vision

Peter Cochrane speaking

Peter Cochrane has been looking into the future of technology for decades. We asked him to reflect on changes in healthcare and the opportunities for innovation in mental health in particular. This video sets the scene, and there is more to follow!.

£500 for the best idea to improve mental health

SpaceCot becomes a business

At the finale of the first Innovate Suffolk hackathon, at 6pm on Sunday, 26th May at the University of Suffolk’s Ipswich Waterfront Innovation Centre, one team will be awarded a prize fund of £500 for the best idea presented to the judging panel, thanks to generous support from our sponsor Hays.

Up to 60 business people, technologists and students supported by 20 mentors will have assembled just 48 hours earlier for Innovate Suffolk’s first startup hackathon, pitched their ideas, formed teams and worked to develop an ambitious, realistic and compelling project, product or service to support positive mental health.

Startup “Hackathons” are a global phenomenon: high energy, technology-focused and hard to describe unless you’ve experienced it for yourself. The Innovate Suffolk event uses a format pioneered in Cambridge tailored to meaningful innovation, less about creating new technology and more about helping solve real-world problems.

This event focuses on a framework promoted by Suffolk Mind and at the heart of its Suffolk’s Needs Met programme. The framework (see identifies nine emotional needs such as Community and Respect, and attendees will be encouraged to dream up apps, tangible products or community initiatives that support one or more of these needs. They will then form teams, work on their ideas, create prototypes and build a pitch based on 48 hours of research, teamwork and skilled support.

What can attendees expect? Julian Jantke, Co-founder and Managing Director of Oxford Space Structures Ltd, attended a “Future Business Weekend” event using the same format. 

SpaceCot becomes a business

Julian’s team Space Cot were the winners and caught the eye of a local business incubator, so this fun project has become a successful business.

The team behind Innovate Suffolk want to make our county the best place to start and grow businesses, and have brought this proven event format to Suffolk with the support of generous sponsors including recruitment experts Hays, who are supporting the grand prize of £500 to be awarded to the winning team. The event is open to all, and diversity of background, skills and experience are central to Innovate Suffolk’s mission.

Innovate Suffolk Director Jeremy Parsons said, “We’re delighted at the support we’ve had from sponsors and the community. Suffolk is a county that’s full of potential, but sometimes we’re guilty of thinking that you can only start exciting businesses in London or Cambridge. Let’s show what we can achieve by working together on the vital challenge of mental health!”

That’s what Innovate Suffolk is: a place to turn ideas into businesses, faster than you’ve ever dreamed.

Esther’s Story

Esther Miller talks about her experience

Esther Miller was part of a “Future Business Weekend” event run using the same format as the Innovate Suffolk mental health hackathon. We asked her to tell us what she would say to anyone thinking of signing up for the Innovate Suffolk event. In this video response, Esther describes how the experience affected the course of her life.