Game-changing ideas can be born when business professionals, entrepreneurial students and tech specialists come together. UEA Norwich Business School is leading the way in preparing students to tackle the toughest business challenges and make a difference.
Norwich is not normally a city synonymous with technology and innovation, better known for its medieval history, Norman castle and breath-taking Norfolk Broads. However in 2014 a 54 hour hackathon event called Sync the City challenged Norwich’s elite entrepreneurs.
The event brought together tech specialists, business professionals and students and the idea was to build and launch a variety of start-ups. The event was a great example of how community engagement with the digital economy is extremely effective in nurturing projects that not only aim to solve local issues, but contribute positively to building connections with like-minded individuals.
The enduring winners of Sync the City were ‘Team Ever Care’, delivering a successful pitch to a panel of judges for their domestic care communication app. Led by UEA’s Norwich Business School student Emma Pearce, the team’s app idea won the People’s Choice award with 32% of votes, plus instant support from sponsors Norfolk County Council.
Emma Pearce said: “I pitched an idea for an app that improves communication within domiciliary care. The moment that they announced Evercare had won the People’s Choice was one of the most overwhelming moments of my life. I was so proud of my team and what we had accomplished.”
When conceiving the idea of ‘Evercare’, Emma was inspired by her own life experiences: “With five of my family members working in social care, I have grown up hearing about the problems that those cared for in their own homes often experience. Despite newspaper stories, the BBC’s Panorama documentary and reports by the Care Quality Commission all highlighting inadequate standards of adult social care in the UK, few changes have been made.”
A hackathon like Sync the City is designed to push participants to their physical and mental extremes. Cramming days of ideas, energy and innovation into a small space offers both its pros and cons:
“The late nights and early mornings made the event a mental and physical endurance test” Emma said, “In 54 hours I had learnt so much, met so many fantastic people and produced an app prototype that has the potential to make a real difference to people’s lives.”