Catalyst’s Generation Innovation Programme

Published by: Big Motive | 5 min read

What happens when you put almost 200 work experience students on the top floor of the Titanic Museum and arm them with post-its, whiteboards and whatever tech they can get their hands on?  A blizzard of amazing ideas inspired by all kinds of challenges in engineering, marketing, energy and health-care.

Big Motive volunteered our time and expertise to help channel the students’ enthusiasm and energy into creating innovative solutions for some of Ireland’s leading businesses. This was no sit-back-and-shadow work experience! They were put through their paces on how to work as a team, develop solutions, communicate their ideas and dropped into a real-live working environment to report back, before taking to the stage for a 3 minute demo.

Our own Rebecca and Damian led the way, guiding the students through design thinking boot camp training, running the agenda and raising everyone’s energy levels in the very impressive, but quite intimidating surroundings. 

Day one. We introduced the students to design thinking, the essentials of the design sprint and how to ensure that the end user, or customer, is at the heart of their innovation challenge. It was an intense day of learning and some of the students were definitely flagging later in the afternoon. Frankly, the usual icebreakers and energisers weren’t cutting it… By the end of the day, we were wondering, did they take notice? Did anything make it through?

On day two everyone arrived fresh, knowing their new teammates a little better, feeling a bit more confident about the setting, their challenge and the task ahead. Energy looks like it’s on the up!  But once again when we asked “Any questions?” …tumbleweed. Do they understand their challenge? Perhaps we should have brought sweets.

However by day three fears are allayed, things had quietly gathered momentum. The students were getting used to working with their new team-mates and the magic was starting to happen. Moving from table to table we saw the teams really coming together. The confident spokespeople honed their pitches while the makers were bringing the vision to life; be it coded-up digital prototypes (on tools we haven’t even heard of!) or beautifully crafted cardboard prototypes to visualise 3D concepts. The energy and passion was becoming infectious.

At the end of the final day, the teams presented their pitches at the foot of the iconic Titanic staircase with mentors from their host company cheering them on from the sidelines. From satellite data simulations to digital monsters that help tackle childhood obesity, the pitches were impressing the audience and leaving the judging panel with a pretty tough job. It was seriously heart-warming to witness the teachers’ reactions to their “unrecognisable” students on stage, beaming with new-found confidence, focus and passion.

Finally, it was time to announce the winning team. The cool, calm and collected Barclay’s Eagle Lab Team not only wowed their host company but also the judges. Their challenge was clear; “how might we create an innovative way of enabling businesses who work within Ormeau Baths/Barclays Eagle Labs to support each other on an ongoing basis with an aim to share knowledge & skills?”. Their final solution, ‘CO-LAB’, is an online system that allows members of the Ormeau Baths to trade skills and knowledge, allowing the community to develop and grow. CO-LAB integrates a Reddit-based Karma system, in which the user can upvote another admin, providing friendly aspects of competition within the community. It also incorporates individual profiles, a database of abilities and a calendar of upcoming events. 

Dylan Lennox from the winning team had this to say,

“Overall my experience with Catalyst has been amazing, it’s truly an experience that I will remember, and one I would highly recommend for anyone to do if they are given the chance. Some of the highlights of the event would have to be the atmosphere as everyone just seemed to get along and communicate easily with people they didn’t know. Another highlight for me would have been meeting new, great and smart people who had a large range of skills which you were able to learn off, and who were extremely easy to talk to. Furthermore, another highlight for me would have had to be the teamwork, for me this was just extremely fun and easy to do with my team, I honestly don’t think I could have got a better team than the team I got. The only negative I could think of for this event is the fact it only lasts four days.” 

Dylan Lennox, Winning Team, Generation Innovation

The success of Generation Innovation would not be possible without the commitment and inexhaustible energy of Ashleigh, Karen and the wider Catalyst Team. We look forward to partnering with Catalyst again on this brilliant initiative to inform, upskill and empower young people to be the next innovators and entrepreneurs of the future.  

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