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Young Scots battle it out at Venturefest 2017

Three teams of young Scots aged 14 to 20 went head-to-head, when they pitched their innovative ideas to tackle future energy challenges in front of Scotland’s leading investors at Venturefest Scotland earlier this week.

The winning team, Fishing for Fusion, beat out Volts and Jolts, Girl Power to win VentureJam 2017, the official youth strand for Venturefest Scotland.

Now in its third year, the innovative hackathon-style event – delivered by Young Scot and Glasgow City of Science and Innovation – attracted a record number of applicants.

This year the organisers set a challenge of re-purposing existing products and technology to develop new ways of using energy more sustainably, whilst driving home the message that we all have a part to play in achieving a resilient and sustainable energy future.

The challenge was set against the backdrop of Scottish Government’s ambitious vision for the future energy system in Scotland, as laid down in the draft Scottish Energy Strategy.

The winning idea from Fishing for Fusion was an overhaul of the sewage system combining existing clean energy technologies, the other two ideas included genetically modified moss that glows to reduce the need for energy-guzzling street lights and a personal energy tracker app which promotes positive behaviour change around energy use by rewarding good behaviour.

The ‘Jam’ was supported by a team of high profile mentors from the world of television, gaming, product design, and digital media, as well as top entrepreneurship experts and energy gurus. All volunteered their time to help guide the young people through the challenge.

The young people worked in groups to generate their best ideas before presenting these to the rest of the VentureJam participants in a friendly competition.

Fishing for Fusion will receive an investment prize from Social Investment Scotland, and a unique face-to-face VIP session with renowned Scottish entrepreneur and games guru, Chris van der Kuyl.

Van der Kuyl, whose company is working on console editions of Minecraft for Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, will share his best advice for young aspiring entrepreneurs with the lucky winners.

The team’s pitches will formed part of the Pitchfest! stream of Venturefest, where delegates will have the opportunity to learn how to pitch, find out why pitching matters, see how others pitch, and learn what potential funders might want to know.

Judges at the VentureJam pitch session included: Chris Stark, Director of Energy and Climate Change at Scottish Government; Dr Duncan Booker, Group Manager, for Sustainable Glasgow and Resilience at Glasgow City Council; Mark Irwin, Principal Officer for STEM at Glasgow City Council; Leona Seaton, Programme Director at Developing the Young Workforce Glasgow; and Rachael Brown, Chief Executive at Cultural Enterprise Office and Social Entrepreneur in Residence with Social Investment Scotland.

Dr Susie Mitchell, programme director of Glasgow City of Science and Innovation, said: “VentureJam 2017 was our best and biggest yet, and I’m looking forward to the grand final at Venturefest Scotland.

“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. VentureFest will give Scotland’s young innovators a chance to shine. We know the attendees at VentureFest will be blown away by the ideas on offer.”

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