£500 for the best idea to improve mental health

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 https://innovatesuffolk.co.uk/resources/) 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.

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