On a beautiful sunny morning on the Oxford Road, a group of CityVerve partners gathered to hear from the next generation on how they would change Manchester for the better using the power of IoT.
The Next Generation School’s Innovation Challenge was the result of months of coordination with local schools and, of course, months of hard work by the pupils (ably supported by their teachers, friends and parents) to respond to a challenging brief for anyone: how do we use the IoT to create a more innovative and inspiring Manchester for those who live, work, play and study here?
We also wanted to test the students’ creativity with a more light-hearted challenge: to design a smart robot to help improve something dear to their hearts in the running of the city!
Up for grabs on the day, as well as the School’s Innovation Challenge trophy of course, was the setup of a ‘classroom of innovation’. Kitted out with the latest in cutting-edge technology, these innovation hubs aim to encourage the students to continue to create and develop the ideas they’d brought with them to the Challenge.
Joined by judges from key partners Manchester City Council (represented by Mark Duncan), Cisco (Nick Chrissos) and Manchester Science Partnerships (represented by Anne Dornan), as well as journalist Lucy Roue from the Manchester Evening News and Hive Manchester co-founder Damian Payton, we were all excited to hear the ideas the students came up with.
Both our groups of finalists – teams from Manchester Grammar School and the Manchester Communications Academy – brought brilliant ideas to the table about how to increase and improve movability around the city, with a loyalty card points scheme and a smart parking space finder app respectively.
It was a tough decision for our team of judges, as both teams brought both innovative and creative thinking to the presentation and performed brilliantly under pressure – including in the follow-up tough Q&A from the judging panel. But it was decided that Manchester Grammar School’s ‘Vision’ loyalty scheme was the winner.
However, adding a twist to the tale, Cisco’s Nick Chrissos revealed that the judges were so impressed with both presentations that they were awarding both schools with a ‘classrooms of innovation’ package, and want to work with both teams to see how we can integrate their ideas into the CityVerve project.
It was a brilliant day of great ideas and fun out-of-the-box thinking – credit to the two winning robot design teams for a pollution-reducing robot and a robot to moderate exam conditions – and we were so impressed with all the students, especially those who presented their ideas back to a room of peers and partners so confidently and smoothly.
Thanks to all the staff and parents who helped out and came along to support on the day, thanks too to our panel of judges and – most importantly – thanks to the pupils of Manchester Grammar School and the Manchester Communications Academy for taking part!