GeoVation thrives on the collaboration, networking and feedback of its participants and other stakeholders – and GeoVation challenges and the challenge process are developed from that feedback. Indeed, this alumni network is based on just such feedback. Our objective is to better support our finalists’ and winners’ ventures to grow beyond participation in just the challenge process itself.
As part of this, we are delighted to work with the Impact Hub Westminster to provide all our finalists and winners (wherever, they live) access to the Hub Connection virtual network; its support, knowledge, skills, experience and wider membership. Based on feedback we have put together an interesting mix of requested workshops, discussions, hands-on time and of course, opportunities to network.
Impact Hub Westminster is one of the largest of a global network of locally owned collaborative working spaces. They are part of a community of over 7000 members worldwide in more than 54 locations. Its primary aim is to support organisations with positive social and environmental impact at the heart of their missions. In addition, providing flexible access to workspace and curating a supportive, collaborative environment for these impact makers. Early stage organisations struggle to survive in isolation.
The environment and services available are designed to incubate, sustain and grow the positive impact of their members through collaboration. To further support the community they host a continuous flow of excellent relevant events and programmes, providing a stream of learning and networking opportunities for their members.
Thursday saw the very first GeoVation alumni event, we packed the day with a full itinerary for our winners and finalists; we kicked the day off with introductions from Chris Parker, GeoVation and Quentin Johns, Impact Hub Westminster. Chris framed the day and outlined what we hoped our delegates would get from the day while Quentin introduced the Hub Westminster and its support group. This was followed by a short introduction to some of our guests and what support they could offer such as Bryan Forbes from Technical Strategy Board (TSB) and Iain Rolfe from Business Innovation & Skills (BIS).
After a short coffee break, and a chance to network and catch up, we asked Helen – Mission Explore/City Farmers and Ayo – Element Green Recycling to give us an insight into what problems they had following camp and highlight the issues they came across, which they felt they needed help and support with. Many thanks Ayo and Helen, your input was of real value.
Flic Cremin, Digital Community and Communications Manager at Hub Westminster introduced us to Yammer with a brief guide to how to set up your account and linking to the Hub network. GeoVation are paying for our winner’s first 12 months membership of the virtual Hub connection network, where they will have access to the Hub Westminster’s internal network where the community shares content, collaborates on projects and builds connections.
Dan Spicer gave us a stimulating introduction to Hootsuite, and some staggering statistics on social media, for example, there are over15 million Twitter users in the UK (Twitter CEO – Sept 2013). This was followed by a presentation from Andy Harrison, of BIS, on the Government’s campaign: Business is GREAT Britain; The Government’s commitment to make it easier for small business to grow. Andy gave us some very useful web links and points of contact including gov.uk.business, and the different national business support programmes available.
Quentin Johns followed this with a brief lowdown on the different offers the Hub Westminster has secured which the winners could access, before we broke for a healthy lunch. During lunch, we had the opportunity to meet some of the Hub users and find out what they thought about the Hub and how it was helping them with their business/projects and networked with other GeoVation winners. The chocolate and raspberry brownies seemed to be the biggest hit!
The afternoon started of with a short crowdfunding video from our ‘How do we encourage active lifestyles in Britain?’ finalists ‘Go Wild Nature Kits’; a great way to follow on to our next presentation by Chris Parker on other funding opportunities. During his presentation Chris told us about other funding start-up enterprises could access via different government-run organisations such as NESTA – an innovation charity that helps people and organisations bring great ideas to life, Nominet; funding internet-based projects that make a positive difference to the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people and Technology Strategy Board (TSB) who’s aim is simple – to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation.
Following this, Sam Hill from Pan Studios – ‘Run an Empire’ a winner of our ‘How do we encourage active lifestyles in Britain?’ presented a short piece on his experience with Kickstarter funds and the issues he had setting up and the things to look out for.
We then had a much deserved break with the other members/users of the Hub. Every Thursday they have high tea, which involves lots of scones, jam and cream and the classic debate of jam then cream or cream then jam…
Having had our fill of cake and scones we settled back in the room to a feedback session on building the next alumni event – ‘What do you want of this network!’
- What worked?
- What would you like to like to see more of?
- What didn’t work?
We hope those who attended found it worthwhile and we will be very interested in any more feedback you may have in developing subsequent alumni events.