Insights from the Innovation Jam – Fiona McBride 

The Student Energy Summit brings together students and young professionals from across the world. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the things we have in common, to learn from one another about the things we do differently, and to collectively imagine how the world’s energy landscape could look in our future. 

SES is all about working together, inspiring students and young professionals to build a cleaner, greener future. This theme was threaded throughout the event, but it really stood out in one particular element: the Innovation Jam. Taking place across the entire conference, the Innovation Jam is a competition for teams that form at SES23. Each team develops and pitches an idea to help create the future we’re all collectively trying to imagine. The prize? First, second and third place are awarded some starter funding to begin launching their idea.

Getting Stuck into the Innovation Jam at SES23

I met some of my Innovation Jam teammates on the airport shuttle bus. Others joined us at the hotel before the conference started. I spoke to more during event networking sessions. Fellow Grantham Scholar Mahdi Ahmed and I ended up on the same team, despite being invited to join by different people. Our teammates were from Canada, India, The Netherlands, France, Bahrain, and Sudan. We also had an equally diverse range of specialisms and interests.

The initial idea for our proposal was to focus on improving access to information about clean energy, particularly for young people living in the Global South. Understanding how and why a shift away from fossil fuels matters is key to making change happen. Through the process of refining our ideas ready for each subsequent round in the competition, we identified a need for resources and opportunities relating to clean energy to be:

• Available in a range of languages, not just English
• Put into a context relevant to young people in the Global South
• Published and promoted in places that young people visit (online or in person)

General view of the Sustainability Pavilion at night. (Photo by Dany Eid/Expo 2020)

And the Results are in…

The finals were held in the COP green zone, just before the SES23 closing ceremony. As a team, we gave our pitch for a platform to translate the content and context of green energy resources, information and job and study opportunities to the young people of the Global South, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa. We made our case to hundreds of people and a panel of high-profile judges, and we answered their questions. And we came second!

Winning second place means that we won $2500 (USD) to begin developing our platform. At this stage, it’s hard to say where it will go – scheduling meetings across six different time zones sometimes feels challenging enough. The funding we won is enough to start things moving, but nowhere near what it would take to get our proposal off the ground. However, hopefully with some teamwork, and the continuing support of the SES mentorship, we’ll have more to say about it in the future!

Find out what our other Grantham Scholars got up to at SES23 here.

You can also read more about Fiona McBride’s research projects here.