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Innovation Squad – Inspiring young women in innovation

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Innovation Squad began as a pilot programme in 2017. Our aim was to build a strong peer support network across all faculties and to inspire young women to create and develop innovative projects. The programme launched in April with twenty young women from different backgrounds including Arts, Law, Business, Science, Engineering, Education, Medical and Health Sciences and Creative Arts and Industries. The young women came together, formed strong bonds and began the process of creating a supportive and inspirational community.

What an amazing seven months! It has been a privilege to meet so many ambitious and talented young women and to facilitate the building of a strong network across a variety of interests and disciplines.

“Innovation Squad has been one of the most encouraging and welcoming communities I’ve been in.” – Innovation Squad participant

“I found it to be a really unique and rewarding, different dimension to my university experience which I’ve really valued, as where else would I have gotten this awesome opportunity.” – Innovation Squad participant

During the programme we hosted three ‘unconference’ sessions covering the topics Starting your Journey, Personal Leadership and Wellbeing and Failure and Resilience. Our speakers and facilitators, Sophie Gilmour, Annette Presley, Samantha Copland and Leanne Prichard presented thought provoking material, offered fresh new perspectives and were remarkable role models.

Every ‘unconference’ session had its own flavour and brought the cohort closer together. Our role models opened up and shared honest and real stories. Their vulnerability encouraged the squad to open up, to discuss and debate obstacles and seek the answers to their questions in a supportive and safe environment.

Throughout the programme we came to realise that young female entrepreneurs with creative interests face similar hurdles on their journeys. By facilitating an experience such as Innovation Squad, students saw the value of being part of a supportive network and appreciated knowing they were not alone.

“I loved these sessions! The way the guest speakers transitioned from telling their stories, into helping us be more comfortable to talk about ourselves and helping each other was really smooth and just great!” – Innovation Squad participant

The programme also involved mentorship. The mentors played a crucial role in supporting each and every participant. They supported the girls with their entrepreneurial projects, their side hustles, their University degrees and anything else that came up. Without the breadth of experience brought into the programme from our valued mentors we wouldn’t have been able to support the group as well as we did.

“The mentors I spoke to were very diverse and approachable. A few of them were students not too long ago, which made their success a little more do-able and hence made me more hopeful and encouraged to do something similar.” – Innovation Squad Participant

It’s been an awe inspiring experience watching the squad grow and develop over the period of the programme. It’s so moving to witness the growth of our future generation which is already positively touching and impacting the world we live in through their voices and actions.

Innovation Squad 2017, you have simply been amazing! The team at the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship are thrilled we had the opportunity to work with incredible young influencers like yourselves. And a massive thanks to all our contributors who dedicated their own time to support our future leaders and creators, you have all been wonderful role models and mentors and we are very grateful!

Mai Al Sharaf is Programme Coordinator for the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and manager of Innovation Squad.

 

Members of Innovation Squad 2017

Members of Innovation Squad 2017.

Members of Innovation Squad 2017

Members of Innovation Squad 2017.

social media

Innovation Squad began as a pilot programme in 2017. Our aim was to build a strong peer support network across all faculties and to inspire young women to create and develop innovative projects. The programme launched in April with twenty young women from different backgrounds including Arts, Law, Business, Science, Engineering, Education, Medical and Health Sciences and Creative Arts and Industries. The young women came together, formed strong bonds and began the process of creating a supportive and inspirational community.

What an amazing seven months! It has been a privilege to meet so many ambitious and talented young women and to facilitate the building of a strong network across a variety of interests and disciplines.

“Innovation Squad has been one of the most encouraging and welcoming communities I’ve been in.” – Innovation Squad participant

“I found it to be a really unique and rewarding, different dimension to my university experience which I’ve really valued, as where else would I have gotten this awesome opportunity.” – Innovation Squad participant

During the programme we hosted three ‘unconference’ sessions covering the topics Starting your Journey, Personal Leadership and Wellbeing and Failure and Resilience. Our speakers and facilitators, Sophie Gilmour, Annette Presley, Samantha Copland and Leanne Prichard presented thought provoking material, offered fresh new perspectives and were remarkable role models.

Every ‘unconference’ session had its own flavour and brought the cohort closer together. Our role models opened up and shared honest and real stories. Their vulnerability encouraged the squad to open up, to discuss and debate obstacles and seek the answers to their questions in a supportive and safe environment.

Throughout the programme we came to realise that young female entrepreneurs with creative interests face similar hurdles on their journeys. By facilitating an experience such as Innovation Squad, students saw the value of being part of a supportive network and appreciated knowing they were not alone.

“I loved these sessions! The way the guest speakers transitioned from telling their stories, into helping us be more comfortable to talk about ourselves and helping each other was really smooth and just great!” – Innovation Squad participant

The programme also involved mentorship. The mentors played a crucial role in supporting each and every participant. They supported the girls with their entrepreneurial projects, their side hustles, their University degrees and anything else that came up. Without the breadth of experience brought into the programme from our valued mentors we wouldn’t have been able to support the group as well as we did.

“The mentors I spoke to were very diverse and approachable. A few of them were students not too long ago, which made their success a little more do-able and hence made me more hopeful and encouraged to do something similar.” – Innovation Squad Participant

It’s been an awe inspiring experience watching the squad grow and develop over the period of the programme. It’s so moving to witness the growth of our future generation which is already positively touching and impacting the world we live in through their voices and actions.

Innovation Squad 2017, you have simply been amazing! The team at the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship are thrilled we had the opportunity to work with incredible young influencers like yourselves. And a massive thanks to all our contributors who dedicated their own time to support our future leaders and creators, you have all been wonderful role models and mentors and we are very grateful!

Mai Al Sharaf is Programme Coordinator for the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and manager of Innovation Squad.

 


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