Last week saw the finale of the University’s ‘Play Your Part: Students in the Community’ Innovation Challenge at The Spine in Paddington Village.
The Humanities and Social Sciences-focused initiative offered students the chance to collaborate in interdisciplinary teams to create a new product, service or initiative to support communities who have been affected by the cost of living crisis across the Liverpool City Region.
Students were placed into eight groups and provided with a bespoke data pack from the LCR Civic Data Cooperative and contextual insights from Everton in the Community. Each team received training and resources from the Careers & Employability team.
Teams were also supported by mentors from The University of Liverpool and LCR-based organisations including Wirral Unplugged, Make It Happen Birkenhead, Riverside Housing Trust, and Crisis UK.
Over the course of three weeks, the student teams developed their ideas and submitted digital pitches to be reviewed by a shortlisting panel. Three were selected to pitch their idea at the final, to a panel of judges from industry and academia and a roomful of community experts, LCR-based organisations and University of Liverpool colleagues.
All of the teams pitched incredibly well, delivering a diverse range of carefully considered and data-driven concepts, which focused on key themes such as reducing food poverty, supporting community and sense of belonging, reducing isolation and the stigma around seeking help amongst expectant or new mothers, and the connectedness of support services and the communities that they serve.
Second-year Criminology with Social Policy student Eleanor Marchant was part of the winning team. She said: “This was a fantastic experience that I feel privileged to be a part of. Our ‘Connecting Liverpool’ idea of an interactive website compiling all of the community support and charities available in Liverpool for those who are struggling with the ongoing cost of living crisis is something I feel very passionate about. We pitched our idea to the judges and guests at the event and are lucky to have won, receiving an innovation voucher to move forward with our idea!”
The winning team received £750 innovation vouchers from LCR Civic Data Cooperative to help them launch their initiative, while those in second and third place received £500 and £250 respectively. All the teams have also been invited to Everton in the Community‘s headquarters, with a tour of Goodison Park, and offered coaching to apply for further funding up to £5,000 from the University of Liverpool Enterprise Fund.
Zac Taylor from Everton in the Community said: “I really enjoyed partnering on this project. All the finalists were brilliant in pitching their ideas, and it was a great celebration of the work the students have done in just 3 weeks. Well done to all involved!”
Matt Jones, University of Liverpool HSS Career Consultant said: “In addition to addressing community challenges, the initiative also provided students with valuable skills that are highly sought after in the graduate labour market, such as problem-solving, adaptability, creativity, resilience, and presentation skills.”
Lib Golding, University of Liverpool Enterprise Educator said: “This initiative demonstrates how bringing local organisations and students together to collaborate on topical issues, like the cost of living crisis, can promote entrepreneurial thinking and allow students to explore new concepts around idea generation, business modelling, and project design.”
Make things happen with our enterprise programmes
The University of Liverpool Enterprise Fund offers students the chance to apply for awards varying from £500-£5,000 to support the development of an existing enterprise or early-stage business idea.
If you are looking to start a new enterprise or build entrepreneurial skills to be used in employment, then our Careers & Employability team can help you along the way.