Dorset Spark: Igniting Ideas

30 May 2019

The Dorset Spark Business Innovation Lab event hosted by Bournemouth University (BU) and Dorset Growth Hub kicked off on May 15th and brought together multi-generational, multi-sector teams to help solve the challenges facing industry in the county.

The Dorset Spark Business Innovation Lab event hosted by Bournemouth University (BU) and Dorset Growth Hub kicked off on May 15th and brought together multi-generational, multi-sector teams to help solve the challenges facing industry in the county.

The day began with talks from Nigel Jump, Professor of regional economic development and Anthony Woodhouse, Chairman of Hall and Woodhouse. The speeches were illuminating, fascinating and inspired all the teams to begin sparking ideas.

The event itself provided invaluable interactions between businesses in Dorset and the new generation entering the workforce in the form of BU students. These kinds of interactions rarely occur organically, and creating a nurturing environment wherein students could challenge and contribute to ideas pitched by business owners in order to try and find a perfect middle ground of understanding that also appealed to a panel of business and Dorset experts.

This event enabled students to network with potential employers, as well as have informed discussions about set topics that they were assigned on the day. These included hot topic concepts such as cybersecurity, carbon agenda, health & wellbeing and sustainable transport among others. Each group of six had just less than three hours to discuss, tackle and prepare to present a 5-minute pitch on their allocated subject.

Looking around the room at all the other teams, the strategies varied from flow diagrams and pie charts all the way to hastily scribbled notes held haphazardly so the audience at least had something to look at during the meticulously planned pitch.

Teams drew on their personal backgrounds and anecdotal ideas as well as facts and statistics from national and international sources in order to support – or in some cases damage; leading to much grumbling and rewriting – the arguments presented to the panel and audience.

The teams all seemed evenly matched, and indeed they were a perfect mix of students and business owners.

Erin Greenslade, student and Project Administrator at DGH, was part of the health and well-being team and said; “Listening to my team bounce ideas off one another was an almost magical experience – especially when feeling brave enough to contribute myself when I most definitely was not the most experienced person in the room. The sense of close-knit teamwork that pervaded the entire event was something special, something that is not often created nor maintained – and it happened organically!

I never thought I’d see people so passionately talking about Dorset’s carbon agenda or how to brand Dorset on a global scale and yet here we were; on the seventh floor of the Executive Business Centre, waxing lyrical and excitedly about hooking in local talent away from London and expressing that Bournemouth should definitely have its own TFL clone.

It was serendipitous that I, as someone who was roped in last minute, ended up on the winning team with a group of truly wonderful and fascinating people. Despite the differences between our team, we ended up laser focussed on one goal – improving the health (physical and mental) of employees in Dorset. And although the pitched concept of a “charter” much like Investors in People has not come to be (…. yet!) it was lauded as the one thing that felt both feasible and attractive on the day.

I feel privileged to have been a part of a fantastically compassionate and enthusiastic team, and it was obvious that the empathetic mindset we had from the very beginning was felt by both panel and audience alike.”

Nick Gregory, Programme and Partnership Manager at Dorset Growth Hub added; “This was a fantastic event engaging business and students, working together to seek solutions for some of the issues facing the Dorset economy. It is, I hope, the first event of many.”

Congratulations to team three, and to everyone who attended Dorset Spark – it truly was a melting pot of people and concepts like none other, and look forward to seeing you at the next one!