Delivered by Young Scot and Glasgow City of Science and Innovation, VentureJam attracted a record number of applicants to tackle this year’s challenge of developing ways of using energy more sustainably.
The teams formulated their disruptive energy solutions during an intensive weekend ‘Jam’ in August with support of mentors from the world of television, gaming, product design and digital media as well as top entrepreneurship experts and energy gurus. Following that process, three teams of young people aged 14 to 20 – Volts and Jolts, Girl Power, and Fishing for Fusion – were shortlisted as finalists for VentureJam 2017 and went forward to pitch in front of Scotland’s leading investors at Venturefest Scotland.
The teams’ ideas included genetically modified moss that glows to reduce the need for energy-guzzling street lights, an overhaul of the sewage system combining existing clean energy technologies, and a personal energy tracker app which promotes positive behaviour change around energy use by rewarding good behaviour.
The winning idea was invented by Mary-Jane McNally, 17, Susan Chen, 17, Nevin Pillai, 16, Adnan Bakar, 16 and Mhairi McCann, 18, of Fishing for Fusion.
Susan explained the team’s creative thinking: “We started by exploring the different problems we are currently facing regarding energy needs and began with a few questions like: Can we improve the efficiency of energy generation? Or, is there a better way of gathering waste energy and put it to good use?
“One aspect we considered was the vast amount of wasted energy in the sewers – we used this as a stepping stone to come up with innovative ways to utilise both the heat and kinetic energy entering the pipes which would otherwise be lost.”
Mhairi said the team discovered that 30 per cent of all the energy in the world ends up in the sewers, so a sewage-based solution was a good option.
“We then started looking at some of the existing green energy technologies, to see if there are any that we could implement in the sewage system. In the end, our idea was a combination of existing clean energy technologies, implemented in the sewage system.”
The team is considering entrepreneurship as a career.
Susan said: “We need innovation more than ever, in order to drive the advancement of civilisation. In a world that is becoming increasingly dependent on technology, I believe this is something that entrepreneurs need to focus on.”
Nevin wants to learn how to run an engineering business, whether it is applying it to recovering energy or solving problems, while Adnan has an idea to provide 100 percent biodegradable packaging to eliminate the use of plastic.
Dr Susie Mitchell, programme director of Glasgow City of Science and Innovation, said: “It’s so important to provide opportunities that upskill, inspire and encourage entrepreneurial thinking in Scotland’s young people so that we can increase competitiveness and growth in a smart, sustainable and inclusive way. Informal and inclusive learning opportunities like VentureJam are essential in promoting applied STEM and creativity in a real world context, and I hope that our participants, the innovators and entrepreneurs of tomorrow, have been inspired to use their skills to co-create and innovate a brighter future for people, and the planet.”
Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive of Young Scot, said: “It is inspiring to see young people in Scotland so invested in promoting a sustainable environment.”
The Fishing for Fusion team were awarded a cash investment prize from Social Investment Scotland to develop their idea further and will now enjoy a VIP meeting with the globally-recognised Scottish entrepreneur and co-founder of 4J Studios, Chris van der Kuyl.
The VentureJam 2017 Energy Innovation Challenge was supported by Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council, Sustainable Glasgow, Venturefest Scotland, Developing the Young Workforce Glasgow, Social Investment Scotland and Glasgow Science Centre.