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Student innovators highlight this generation’s social anxieties

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Students at the University of Auckland have been presented with numerous opportunities to develop ventures through programmes on offer from the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Rather than developing Get Rich schemes, students are consistently choosing to develop venture ideas that aspire to address the social and environmental ills of the world.

Out of the 13 venture ideas developed during the Centre’s latest programme ‘Idea Bootcamp’, 5 addressed environmental issues and 3 dealt with social interaction and mental health and wellbeing. Programme Manager Sinead Watson says “The continued themes we are seeing coming through from our student participants are symptomatic of the anxieties of the current generation around the state of the world and the burning desire to do something about it all.”

Concerns about the environment are to perhaps be expected, but a surprising trend that has come through in recent venture creation programmes is a yearning to address the difficulties that the current generation experience over social interactions.

“If you speak to parents or any mature person really, you will often hear exasperation about young people navigating traditional social interactions like being able to make a phone call. In modern times the current generation may not see social scripts like how to conduct a phone call valuable or relevant, however we see students self-identifying social interaction in general as an area of difficulty. People are more connected than ever through technology yet there is a sense of isolation. And the way that students choose to address the problem is through applying technological solutions with a humanistic framework”.

During Idea Bootcamp one venture idea was around building empathy and support strategies through an immersive VR experience of mental health symptoms. Other venture ideas included a platform for interacting with lecturers and an app for meeting like-minded students.

At another Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship programme, Summer Lab, a group of students came up with the idea of using virtual reality to help people with autism practice social interaction. The groups venture, Socius VR, was so compelling and internationally relevant that they were finalists in the mSchools SDG Challenge – an international competition for students to design innovative solutions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by applying digital technology. As a result they were flown all expenses paid to Barcelona to pitch their idea at an influential tech start-up event 4YFN.

Director of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Wendy Kerr says “Over the last three years in my role as Director, I have seen a steady rise in the proportion of socially-minded ventures being put forward by students. They are not creating charities but high impact businesses with a compelling value proposition and a sustainable funding model. Interestingly, students do not make the same separation between a social venture and a commercial venture that those of us from older generations may do. They see that are solving very important and in some cases personally relevant problems.”

2019 Idea Bootcamp venture ideas
Beeware: Tracker system to monitor bees overall health as a way to maximize honey production
Engage Me: A SaaS platform that allows lecturers to interact with their students during lectures
Enviro Light: An awareness Application that educates consumers about environmentally friendly products
Finders: A SaaS platform that prevents customers from losing their item through a geo-location tracking system
Hitch: A SaaS platform to connect drivers and riders who are going the same way
Kintsugi: An educational immersive VR platform for those who struggle with social interactions
Luckia Student Help: A mentoring service for international students who are new to New Zealand
Meta-CV: A Saas platform to analyse and add individualised and tailored value to job seekers during the recruitment process
Plastic 2 Life: A company that aims to recycle waste and turn it into valuable solutions such as insulation boards for the housing sector
Team5: A GPS and tracking technology that precisely geo-locates solutions for businesses who need high accuracy for logistics
Team ATE: A drone service to track litter at New Zealand beaches as a way to monitor waste
Unibuddy: A SaaS platform that connects new students to each other a way to increase social engagement.

Idea Bootcamp
Idea Bootcamp

social media

Students at the University of Auckland have been presented with numerous opportunities to develop ventures through programmes on offer from the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Rather than developing Get Rich schemes, students are consistently choosing to develop venture ideas that aspire to address the social and environmental ills of the world.

Out of the 13 venture ideas developed during the Centre’s latest programme ‘Idea Bootcamp’, 5 addressed environmental issues and 3 dealt with social interaction and mental health and wellbeing. Programme Manager Sinead Watson says “The continued themes we are seeing coming through from our student participants are symptomatic of the anxieties of the current generation around the state of the world and the burning desire to do something about it all.”

Concerns about the environment are to perhaps be expected, but a surprising trend that has come through in recent venture creation programmes is a yearning to address the difficulties that the current generation experience over social interactions.

“If you speak to parents or any mature person really, you will often hear exasperation about young people navigating traditional social interactions like being able to make a phone call. In modern times the current generation may not see social scripts like how to conduct a phone call valuable or relevant, however we see students self-identifying social interaction in general as an area of difficulty. People are more connected than ever through technology yet there is a sense of isolation. And the way that students choose to address the problem is through applying technological solutions with a humanistic framework”.

During Idea Bootcamp one venture idea was around building empathy and support strategies through an immersive VR experience of mental health symptoms. Other venture ideas included a platform for interacting with lecturers and an app for meeting like-minded students.

At another Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship programme, Summer Lab, a group of students came up with the idea of using virtual reality to help people with autism practice social interaction. The groups venture, Socius VR, was so compelling and internationally relevant that they were finalists in the mSchools SDG Challenge – an international competition for students to design innovative solutions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by applying digital technology. As a result they were flown all expenses paid to Barcelona to pitch their idea at an influential tech start-up event 4YFN.

Director of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Wendy Kerr says “Over the last three years in my role as Director, I have seen a steady rise in the proportion of socially-minded ventures being put forward by students. They are not creating charities but high impact businesses with a compelling value proposition and a sustainable funding model. Interestingly, students do not make the same separation between a social venture and a commercial venture that those of us from older generations may do. They see that are solving very important and in some cases personally relevant problems.”

2019 Idea Bootcamp venture ideas
Beeware: Tracker system to monitor bees overall health as a way to maximize honey production
Engage Me: A SaaS platform that allows lecturers to interact with their students during lectures
Enviro Light: An awareness Application that educates consumers about environmentally friendly products
Finders: A SaaS platform that prevents customers from losing their item through a geo-location tracking system
Hitch: A SaaS platform to connect drivers and riders who are going the same way
Kintsugi: An educational immersive VR platform for those who struggle with social interactions
Luckia Student Help: A mentoring service for international students who are new to New Zealand
Meta-CV: A Saas platform to analyse and add individualised and tailored value to job seekers during the recruitment process
Plastic 2 Life: A company that aims to recycle waste and turn it into valuable solutions such as insulation boards for the housing sector
Team5: A GPS and tracking technology that precisely geo-locates solutions for businesses who need high accuracy for logistics
Team ATE: A drone service to track litter at New Zealand beaches as a way to monitor waste
Unibuddy: A SaaS platform that connects new students to each other a way to increase social engagement.


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