Entrepreneurs join cricket legend and UN secretary to discuss social impact

Student entrepreneurs and academics learned about management under pressure from Indian cricket legend Anil Kumble.

The first ever virtual Social Impact Day event brought together academics, entrepreneurs, students and experts to explore and celebrate how we can achieve tangible social impact and improve lives around the world. 

The event was organised by the Gandhi Centre for Inclusive Innovation, based at Imperial College Business School. Dr Sankalp Chaturvedi, Associate Professor of Organisational Behavior & Leadership and Director of the Centre hosted the event, emphasising the importance of creating social impact and being socially responsible, and how this should be central to all organisations, now more than ever.  

Managing pressure in sport 

During a fireside chat, Anil Kumble, former Indian cricket captain, coach and commentator, shared his thoughts on leadership under pressure. On managing pressure in sport, Anil discussed the importance of setting routines, and practising in the way you’re going to play the match – it’s having routines that is also helping Anil during the current lockdown restrictions. As a leader, he said it’s important to lead from the front and lead by example

Ideas to Impact 

Student entrepreneurs also had the opportunity to pitch innovative 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 of seed funding, Third Eye Intelligence aims to increase intensive care survival rates by predicting the risk of organ failure. Their evolving AI system processes patient data, such as medication, blood tests, past records, and predicts the patient’s risk of deterioration. Founder Sam Turkra is currently undertaking a PhD in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Vision at the College. 

Second prize of £5,000 went to FreshPack who are addressing the problem of plastic boxes used in takeaway orders, which are not recyclable due to being contaminated with food waste. Their solution is to provide 100% biodegradable food packaging solutions to delivery businesses. Co-founders Hanxue Li and Qiyi Wei are both students on the College’s Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Management MSc.  

Awarded with £3,000 of seed funding in third place was Monoceros who are working to improve the efficacy of NGO missions. Focused on medicine, vaccines and food, they hope to optimise supply chain management, using cheaper AI powered sensors and a simple detection platform to stop products being falsified, stolen or perishing. Co-founded by PhD students Théophile Griveau-Billion and Melissa Berthelot.  

The moment Third Eye Intelligence were announced in first place

The other teams to take part in the Ideas to Impact Challenge were: 
– Humanitea – a social enterprise producing the UK’s first chilled ready-to-drink plant-based tea lattes. Founded by Tina Chen, MBA graduate.
 
– ComfortBreak – tackling the problem of incontinence for women in developing countries, by developing an innovative hygiene product which women could sell themselves. Co-founded by Hansa Shree, Biological Sciences student and Ehis Donald Idiake, MBA candidate.  

– SynSapien – developing an open innovation platform to bring together scientists, researchers and innovators from around the world to share data and collaboratively solve global challenges. Co-founders by Manolya Adan and Basil Mahfouz both graduated from Imperial’s MSc in Environmental Technology.    

Artificial intelligence: Ethics and Inclusion 

Experts from law, cybersecurity and diversity and inclusion debated the pressing issues surrounding artificial intelligence (AI), namely its decision-making processes and ethical inputs and outcomes.

During the discussion, Christina Blacklaws, former president of The Law Society, discussed the increase of AI used in the field of law, such as for drafting documents, performing legal research or analysing contracts. While this has significant social benefits as it can increase access to legal aid, there are also concerns of ethical issues, namely that the data inputted into the algorithms powering the AI reflect biases in society.  

Inclusive multilateralism 

Attendees also heard from Ovais Sarmad, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the principal body in the UN for dealing with climate change. He said that the coronavirus pandemic has revealed the vulnerabilities of the world, but reaffirmed the value of “inclusive multilateralism”, i.e. countries working together to solve current global challenges.  

Lessons on leadership 

Dr Chaturvedi also shared his lessons on leadership during a crisis: 

  • Remain calm and reassure your remote workers – this is an opportunity to set an example to your team by staying calm and displaying confidence. 
  • Be proactive and lead from the front. In uncertain times, leaders must be proactive around planning resources, show resilience and patience and consider issues from other people’s perspectives. Celebrate short-term wins and share positivity. 
  • Frame specific messages for your people – amid crises, employees look for clear messages from leaders. 
  • Stay connected to your time – create the right balance to stay in touch and support collaboration. 
  • Practise active listening and empathy to support mental wellbeing 
  • For young entrepreneurs – challenges are the biggest opportunities for you. Think of solutions that can change the world and be impactful. 

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