Big Idea: EyeFocus Accelerator

Disrupting Eye CareEyeCare

Start-up accelerators are going through an evolution, generally becoming more focused on verticals, such as digital health or fintech. I have taken this one step further, establishing an accelerator focused on eye care.

I am testing the idea that a very focused accelerator can offer better support for the start-ups, but also that it can act as a catalyst to build out an ecosystem. In this instance we are building the eye-care innovation ecosystem.

The accelerator is a 12 week program, and therefore a short, focused period of activity around which to cluster people. It is not labour intensive for partners and mentors, yet due to its intensity is very content rich and has high returns for those involved.

The returns are more than just supporting the start-ups. Mentoring is a great way to learn about new innovations, to challenge your own ideas, and to meet other mentors. Equally, our partners and sponsors are getting involved in a very focused networking opportunity. We hope to create value for the whole ecosystem, whilst at the same time offering intense support for our start-ups. Read more

The Culture Challenge – cultural provision for schools

November 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Fellowship 

Fellow Kayte Judge has been working on an interactive ‘culture map’ of Bedfordshire alongside a ‘culture checklist’ setting out a cultural entitlement for young people, based on curriculum needs and research with support from RSA Catalyst. 

culture The Culture Challenge is the second Catalyst fund I have been awarded. For my first I ran pop up shop projects over 2 years in Bedford and while I achieved a lot and learned a lot, what I didn’t do was build a sustainable model. Therefore I was determined that any new venture would need to evolve from the ‘fuelled by raw energy’ school of social entrepreneurship and be something much more sustainable and partnership driven. Read more

PRISINNOVATION: Thinking Out of the Cell

Practivate, led by Fellow Leslie Alfin, provides a gateway for former gang members and ex-prisoners to work in social enterprises. Abilities that have been fostered in destructive patterns of deprivation and loss are rewritten as valuable business skills that can create a positive, sustainable future in society. RSA Catalyst is supporting Practivate’s Indigogo crowdfunding campaign ‘Keepin’ It R.E.A.L. Homeware for Life’, live until November 18th; support their campaign here.

picThe current rate of prison recidivism in the UK is approximately 30% at a cost to UK taxpayers of more than £10 billion annually. The cost of addressing street crime perpetrated by gang activity is over £40 billion annually. The human costs paid by individuals and society can’t be measured. This pattern is repeated around the globe.

As a global society we currently spend more time and money re-purposing plastic bottles than we do re-claiming the vast intellectual and creative human resources that can be found sitting behind bars “spending all day in their cells rather than being engaged in training and rehabilitation.—BBC News” .

Government or institutional “solutions” tend toward manual, low paying labour. This undervalues the potential of individuals who have, from a very early age, collected impressive business experience and skills, a portfolio of innovation ‘know-how’ and tools that could rival (and perhaps trump) the best from business schools.

The assumption that certain “disadvantaged” individuals or communities are less capable of meaningful and valuable contribution may be short sighted at best and stereotypical at worst. Read more

The Big Idea: The times they are a changing

November 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Fellowship 

It’s been a pretty exciting time to live in Scotland recently. The small matter of the referendum on independence and its implicThe Kelpiesations have been debated to the smallest detail, but as a Scot living in Scotland the most exciting aspect for me was the vibrant discussion around politics, democracy, identity and representation which overtook the country.  I remember standing in some very un-Scottish sunshine at the Kelpies sculpture outside Falkirk watching my children play in the park, and being astounded by the fact the at least 75% of the conversations around me revolved around debates on currency, the long term viability and capacity of north sea oil fields and the future development of Scotland as a democratic nation. Not topics you would normally expect to hear on a sunny summer’s day!

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An antidote to Christmas

November 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Education Matters, Fellowship 

The last bangers are exploding. The crackle of fireworks is dissipating into the darkness.  We head inside braced in the knowledge that the commercial world is gearing up to unleash the full force of their festive advertising upon us.

We are promised that on spending our hard earned money on particular brands of clothing/food/wine/gifts we will reach nirvana, that unparalleled place: the best Christmas ever.

Now I’m as Christmassy as the next person but the thought of all that rampant consumerism, of all the plastic and rubbish destined for landfill and the pressure to have the-best-time-of-my-whole-life-and-that-of-my-friends-and-family-ever and is giving me the shivers.

So as the Oxford Street lights power up and John Lewis release their Christmas advert (since when was that a thing?) I’d like to offer a distraction from it all and provide an RSA style antidote our the impending future… Read more

The power to create animates?

November 7, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Fellowship 

Having supported over a hundred new social enterprises through the RSA Catalyst programme, one common flaw in the plans of ventures I’ve observed is a lack of resources (or plan for getting them) to market their product or service in front of their whole target audience. This has got me thinking as to how we might be able to help overcome this.

My idea for how to do this draws on the way that RSA Animates have been viewed 50m times because they’ve been interesting enough for people to share them and the recent and the growing prevalence of online courses. And I think it would be possible to create a course by which we help people make and then give a platform to animations about ventures they are inspired by (and that align with our work).

To see if this was feasible I decided to try to make my own animate of an RSA Fellow’s venture I was passionate about, document how long it took me as well as what equipment and technical expertise was required. Below is the result. The point is not that this video is good enough, but hopefully it gives a sense of what can be achieved if I’d also been able to read the advice of the creator of RSAnimates and been connected to someone who could draw better than me and who might have far more creative ways of displaying the content, rather than my cheap imitation of the RSA Animate style.

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Big Idea – Warblr: the Birdsong App

October 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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With an ever-growing urban population, the gap between people’s day-to-day lives and our natural world is widening. We live in a society full of distractions, and nature is becoming further removed from many people’s frame of reference.
 
Fellow Florence Wilkinson is looking to overcome this gap through her new app Warblr, for which she has just launched a crowdfunding campaign on the RSA’s area on Kickstarter with support from RSA Catalyst.
 
“Birds are indicators of the environment. If they are in trouble, we know we’ll soon be in trouble”, writes Roger Tory Peterson. And I’m sad to say that right now, our British birds are in trouble. Just last week Government figures revealed that populations of farm birds, such as grey partridge, turtle dove and the starling, are down by more than 85% since the 1970s.

We are losing our biodiversity at a terrifying rate: between 1000 and 10,000 times the natural extinction rate, according to experts. Never has our flora and fauna been in greater need of protection.

In the light of such figures, any attempt to take positive action may seem like a drop in the ocean, but we hope that we can create a little ripple, which alongside many other organisatioSONY DSCns will help us make waves. Read more

100 x 107 = A formula for the future of Fellowship?

October 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Fellowship 

How do you celebrate 100 years of Fellowship? How about finding 100 younger people to join the RSA as Fellows?

IMG_7801On 24 September the RSA’s new Centenary Young Fellowship scheme was launched to celebrate the centenary year of Fellowship. 100 budding young changemakers joined the Fellowship to support the RSA’s ethos of  ‘Enriching society through ideas and action’. To help turn ideas into action we often need a great deal of support, so we’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who contributed to this scheme. Our new Centenary Young Fellows (CYFs) are spread across the country with a range of skills and experiences and I have no doubt we will be seeing the emergence of numerous exciting projects from them CYFs over the coming years.  Read about some of this cohorts’ current work and offer your support on our website.

 

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Shut up, and listen

October 20, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Fellowship 

This is a guest blog from Pete Burden, following the event The role of men in supporting women into leadership, organised by RSA Brighton and Hove.

I recently attended an RSA and University of Brighton event on the question ‘What is the role of men in supporting women into leadership?‘ This was a follow-up to a larger event a few months back entitled ‘How women lead‘. That was a great session, with a lot of energy. Creating a follow-up must have seemed a very logical next step.

All the panelists seemed to agree that there is a problem: there are not enough women in leadership positions – in both public and private sectors. And as Simon Fanshawe, OBE, pointed out ‘complex problems require difference and diversity’. Many of our most significant problems today, from the social to the environmental to the economic are complex problems, problems that require different ways of thinking and acting.

Read more

Leeds Empties: RSA Catalyst-supported project

leeds empties logoLeeds-based fellow Rob Greenland updates us on the progress of Leeds Empties, which the RSA recently supported with a £5,000 Catalyst grant.

You probably have an idea as to what an empty home looks like.  Boarded-up, semi-derelict, with an overgrown front garden. And it’ll probably not be the only empty home on the street.

The reality, at least in Leeds, is very different.  Perhaps 10% of our 5000 long-term empty homes look like this. The rest are empty – but in appearance are no different to any other house on the street.

That’s not to say they’re not a problem. They’ll be costing the owners money – and, whilst there’s a chronic housing shortage, it’s a wasted resource.
leeds empties
More often than not the owner would like to bring their home back into use, but they don’t know where to start. That’s where our Empty Homes Doctor service comes in. Read more

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