Summer of Student Innovation: student technology design competition

Jisc is offering students £5,000 grants to develop innovative ideas to improve education, research and student life.

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Jisc’s Summer of Student Innovation is running again in 2014 after a successful pilot last summer.

The programme offers further and higher education (FE and HE) students the chance to create the kind of technologies that could change the education landscape forever. Successful entrants will receive a grant from Jisc to develop their ideas further, with the aim of improving students’ creative design, research, entrepreneurial and project management skills.

The Summer of Student Innovation has emerged from Jisc’s co-design  approach, which it has developed with Jisc partners including RLUK; RUGIT; SCONUL; UCISA and ALT.

Jisc’s co-design approach is at the heart of the way it funds innovations in technology, education and research, whether student or sector-led. All co-design funding follows a process which has been developed to ensure that the consumer stays at the heart of all Jisc-funded innovation.

First Jisc gathers evidence on sector and consumer priorities; then identifies priorities which are similar and puts them into 'themes' – underlying trends which group sector needs and interests. Next Jisc invites experts in those areas to work on each theme and collaborates with them and other leading education and research sector partners to identify and implement projects that can address the problems and opportunities in each theme. 

Working with sector stakeholders is key to this process because it ensures that project outputs are refined and tested and, most importantly, meet the requirements of the people who will use them - the users and consumers in universities and colleges.  Jisc regularly reviews projects to make sure that these aims are being met. 

Andrew McGregor, Jisc’s deputy chief innovation officer, thinks that this approach to funding will create technologies that could change the sector:

"This approach is all about making sure that we don’t assume or guess what services or products could benefit the sector- we’re putting power in the hands of consumers to choose what would benefit them. We can provide many small grants to really fresh, innovative projects and see what they can do. This means that we don’t end up funding ideas based on one slick pitch but because they continue to deliver through on-going supported development and real-world testing. There is no back room here! Each project is considered for initial funding after rigorous public vote. This means that only ideas that really capture students’ imaginations and appeal to their needs make it through."

To enter, students must submit a two to five minute video pitch on the Jisc Elevator website alongside a short summary and a 300-500 word description which includes details on the benefits of their idea and its impact on research and education. To be considered for funding, entrants must hit a target of 500 votes before 30 May 2014 and applications can be submitted right up to that deadline. Voting is open to everyone but votes must come from 15 different FE and HE institutions.

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