Academics, industry experts and investors explore the future of achieving tangible social impact.
Social Impact Day, hosted by Imperial College Business School, brought together academics, entrepreneurs, students and industry experts to explore and celebrate how to achieve tangible social impact and improve lives around the world through business, enterprise and work.
Social impact is a complicated business, but I’m really glad that at Imperial, impact and enterprise are things that we take very seriously Professor Stephen Curry Assistant Provost for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
The event was organised by the Gandhi Centre for Inclusive Innovation, based at Imperial College Business School and hosted by Professor Sankalp Chaturvedi, Professor of Organisational Behaviour & Leadership and Director of the Centre. The theme of this year’s event was rebuilding trust and impacting the future, looking at mental health and hybrid working, as well as diversity and technology.
Diversity in technology
During a keynote address, Professor Stephen Curry, Assistant Provost for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Imperial, discussed the value of research, recognising real-world impact and diversity in technology.
On the latter, he said: “Technology is created by people and if we want to ensure that we’re creating the right technology for the world, we need to include a diversity of scientists, engineers, medics and entrepreneurs in all those endeavours. We need to bring together all the diverse perspectives to that, in order to make fully informed decisions about the most important problems to tackle.
“That is a guiding principle of Imperial’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy, because our commitment to equality and diversity is to make sure that we maximise the quality, relevance and the impact of everything that we do.
“Social impact is a complicated business, but I’m really glad that at Imperial, impact and enterprise are things that we take very seriously.”
Ideas to Impact
The event explored how entrepreneurship can have positive social impact and address global problems, challenging students to come up with innovative new business pitches in the Ideas to Impact Challenge.
Seven teams of student entrepreneurs had the opportunity to pitch their ideas that could solve some of the world’s biggest challenges and impact a million lives, with the top three teams receiving start-up funds and continuous coaching, mentoring and business support from experts at the College.
Claiming the top prize of £7,000 was Sukoon Care who are developing a tailored programme to offer stress-free and accessible rehabilitation care at home for people with cardiovascular disease. Their text-based app aims to help patients arrange home visits and sessions with a nurse. The nurse is guided by the app to tailor the recovery programme to the patient’s needs, covering exercise, diet, lifestyle, and mental wellbeing. Sukoon Care was founded by Biological Sciences graduates Hansa Shree, Akhilesh Sivaraman and Jeannine Coelho.
Second prize of £5,000 went to Sporadicate, who are developing a non-toxic targeted biofungicide system to combat fungal plant diseases. Biofungicides are fungi or bacteria applied to soil to prevent or stop bacterial or fungal infections in plants and roots. The team is made up of Molecular Bioengineering students Shirin Bamezai and Alessandro Serafini.
Awarded with £3,000 of seed funding in third place was awarded to Sow Foods who are making plant-based meat using simple, sustainable, natural ingredients. Using special formulation and production methods, the team say their products have a distinguished chewy texture, outstanding flavours and are made from simple ingredients. Sow Foods was co-founded by Dan Tang, a graduate from the Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Management MSc programme.
The other teams to take part in the Ideas to Impact Challenge were:
- PregoPal – focusing on providing pregnant working women the ease of access to practical and emotional support during the second and third trimesters.
- Resolut – empowering stewardship among retail investors.
- Athena Straw – combatting the problem of drinks being spiked in pubs and clubs
- AwaGee – a personalised marketplace matching consumers with sustainable brands that reflect their values, aiming to demystify and simplify sustainable fashion.
At the event, two panels of experts discussed embracing diverse and new technology and building mental resilience in the hybrid world.
Discussing diverse and new technology, moderated by Assistant Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Dr Ying-Ying Hsieh were Natalia Bayona, Director of Innovation, Education and Investments at United Nations – World Tourism Organization, Karimi Kihato, People Ops Projects Director at Matillion, David Shrier, CEO & Co-Founder at Esme Learning and Professor of Practice, AI & Innovation at Imperial College Business School and Nick Rosa, Metaverse Strategy & Extended Reality Lead Europe & APAC at Accenture.
Professor Sankalp Chaturvedi then moderated the panel on mental resilience, featuring Chris Ruane Ex-MP, Vale of Clwyd (Wales) and Trustee at Oxford University Mindfulness Centre, Laura Noval, Associate Professor at Rennes School of Business, Aneeka Gupta, Director – Equity & Commodity Strategist at WisdomTree and Keshav Murugesh, Group Chief Executive Officer at WNS Global Services.