At 4pm on 27th October 2016 I was sitting in a room of strangers at iCentrum in Birmingham. We were there as part of the Climate-KIC’s Climathon, a 24-hour international global climate change challenge. The Climathon took place in 59 cities, over 6 continents, working with over 100 partners around the globe, and involving over 1400 applicants! Over 10,000 tweets were sent out over the 24-hour period.
The Birmingham contingent was very small, and included an MBE (for services to sustainable energy), two PhD Researchers (Public and Community Health/Climate Physics), an Innovative Product Support Service Project Manager (Photonics), a Software Test Analyst, and, of course, a Solutions For the Planet Programme Coordinator!
We were tasked by Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Academic Health Sciences Network with solving climate change challenges in a way that improves public health, and over the course of the evening we had talks from them, as well as Siobhan Hill of Greenhill Sustainability Ltd and Geoff Ramm, Marketing Speaker. We brainstormed ideas, got into teams and set to work putting our ideas together in the form of a business plan that we would have to pitch at the end of the 24 hours – it was a more intense version of a Big Ideas Day!
At 6:30am the smoothie bike arrived and we used pedal power to make breakfast smoothies, before heading out onto the streets of Birmingham to do our market research with the morning commuters. Later that morning we got some pitch coaching from Paul Adams, Head of Education at Virgin Start-Up, to prepare us for the pitch itself, in front of a panel of 4 judges.
Our team came up with NewLeaf – Urban Social Planning, which looked at dealing with food insecurity, healthy eating, and urban heat islands by utilising roofs and unused groundspace for growing plants.
It was a fantastic experience, I met some interesting people, and it gave me a better understanding of the challenge and opportunity we give our teams on a Big Ideas Day and beyond. Already looking forward to Climathon 2017!