Fourteen students from Methodist College Belfast (MCB) have been participating in an innovation programme from Generation Innovation, in collaboration with Young Enterprise NI.
Each year the Young Enterprise “In Company Programme” encourages young people to join together to start their own business. This year, Catalyst Inc has worked with two student teams from MCB to raise awareness of human-centred product development and innovative thinking. The sixth form pupils were among over 700 young people who showcased their startup businesses at the Young Enterprise Big Market on Wednesday 6th December
Catalyst Inc’s vision is to ‘build a community of innovators so powerful it’s people can change the world’. Through the Generation Innovation programme for young innovators, Catalyst Inc aims to open the eyes of young people in Northern Ireland to the opportunities which exist and encourages students to push possible and aim higher. Given the impact of automation and the speed of technological changes, the future workforce will require a generation of innovators with exceptional collaboration and communication skills, who have the ability to create new systems and develop those that are in decline.Two of the Judges with MCB Students
Within the past three months the student teams have engaged in workshops with the IOD around company leadership, explored Design Thinking with a Stanford educator and taken part in ideation and ethnography sessions with Design Thinker Patricia Flanaghan. Armed with a very rough solution, the teams then began to investigate how they would build a scalable product; working in the Google Hive with the PWC blockchain team to create their ‘lean canvas’ by questioning their customer personas to discover the solution their product needed to provide.
The processes and methodologies used helped the young people to build products focused on human needs and the young startups were encouraged to create, test and fail to build resilience and empathy which will be essential for their future careers.
The students were exposed to a wide array of businesses through Catalyst Inc’s network of knowledge-based innovators and through the companies in attendance at the Young Enterprise Big Market.
Patricia Pinuela, CEO of startup ‘Elephant’ a digitised school homework planner, said that the experience has helped her become more confident in her own abilities to ‘lead a project team’
Connor McMullan, a member of the team who pitched at The Big Market said:
‘I am a computing student, I prefer to sit and code, now I have just pitched to two entrepreneurs and received great feedback, I have taken on a role I didnt think was suited to my skillset.’
Carol Fitzsimons, CEO of Young Enterprise, said: “Now in its third year The Big Market gets bigger and better each year.
“The event gives young people the opportunity to practice their skills for business and become competent. During the event, I see young people start the day shy, nervous and quiet. By the end of the day, after selling their products to the public, there is a visible transformation in their self confidence and they are interacting and chatting with customers to get the sale.”