Plymouth University students excel in Global Social Storm hackathon

Students from the University of Plymouth investigated the power of collaboration as a way of solving complex issues when they took part in a major global initiative.

The University – through the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre – is one of the founding partners of Social Storm, an international competition which encourages students from across the world to communicate virtually as a means to finding social enterprise solutions for real-life problems.

This year, the 2016 Global Social Storm hackathon was won by team Dorsey. This year Social Storm involved 20 Universities form 8 countries. This is the video the winning team (team Dorsey, with students from Aston University, Edinburgh University and University of East Anglia)  made within the 24hrs to explain their solution to sustainable housing.

Social Storm 2016 hackathon 2016 *** Local Caption *** Futures Centre
The 2016 Social Storm hack begins…

It was a challenging fun and rewarding experience for students to develop financially viable solutions to the UN Development goal inspired global issues of food security or sustainable housing.  Teams had  to develop videos and business plans to communicate their ideas (despite long distance communication, team dynamics and sleep deprivation!).

We have heard from members of this year’s winning team and they are keen to put their ideas into action beyond the hack and have started working with contacts in Kenya on the logistics!

Held since 2014, this year’s event took place on November 11 and 12, to kick off Global Entrepreneurship Week.This year, students from Plymouth joined more than 250 others in eight countries (Argentina, UK, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Finland, Ghana and India) to form 36 multi-national teams.

Determined students take on the Global Social Storm Challenge


Students worked together over 24 hours to design a product or service that addresses one of two issues stemming from the United Nations’ Global Goals – food security or sustainable housing.

Plymouth University students made up parts of teams Branson and Winfrey.

Team Branson video:

Team Winfrey video:

Dr Marta Hawkins, Director of the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre, said:

“We are very passionate about student entrepreneurship here in Plymouth, and it is embedded through our courses, academic research and a range of extra-curricular activity. As the first university to be awarded a Social Enterprise Mark, we also have an especially proud history of encouraging social entrepreneurship and this event brings together students who share an enthusiasm for employing that as a sustainable way of making our world a better place.”

Social Storm 2016 hackathon 2016 *** Local Caption *** Futures Centre
Pairs of Plymouth University students were put together in multinational teams with pairs of students from two other universities

For the competition, each team came up with a product or service and then produced a summary business plan and three-minute video pitch. They also had to devise a 250-word Foundation Statement about their team, including its vision, values and how they overcame difficulties.

Feedback from participants include:

  • It was brilliant, I enjoyed networking and getting feedback from mentors.

  • It is not only the people from your team you communicate with it is everyone involved around you. People were extremely polite and helpful to each other

  • The ability to create a social product from scratch in a very short period of time, communicating and splitting tasks within the team via skype so having the person in front of us.

  • Be assertive with your idea and sell it

  • When the going gets tough don’t give up

  • I developed confidence in my own ideas

  • The hackathon developed my ability to cooperate with people from different backgrounds


Social Storm 2016 hackathon 2016 *** Local Caption *** Futures Centre

The Plymouth students were supported throughout by mentoring from Futures’ Entrepreneurs in Residence, Gareth Hart and Raphael Dennett, while Igniting Enterprise, the University’s award-winning student enterprise society, did a great job in helping to coordinate the event.

Amber Strong, Student Entrepreneurship Assistant at the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre, said:

“Igniting Enterprise’s vice-president Feyi Ogunyeye and committee member Dominic Kristy both took part in the 2014 Social Storm hackathon, and they did a great job in sharing their love of the challenging experience with new participants this year. They were also able to pass on their knowledge of how much can be achieved in only one day when students’ creativity and resourcefulness is unleashed while using technology to collaborate around the world, virtually.”


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