Archive for the ‘Talent’ Category

There is some serious talent  on the streets and in the bedrooms of Manchester.  Young people with the kind of creativity we would give our right arm for, Manchester’s future is in their hands.

A teacher I met at the BBC 21st Century Classroom in Salford, told me about his 15 year old student (let’s call him John) who made £5 here, £10 there, by designing My Space pages for his friends. The teacher was frustrated at not having the ability to help John take his digital talent to the next level, nor access to appropriate business start up advice for this teen entrepreneur. When asked what he would do after his GCSE’s, John told the teacher that he’d follow into his father’s shopfitting business, he didn’t consider college, work in the creative sector, or starting his own business as possible options.

To be clear, I am in no way critical of John’s choice. Good design is needed in the physical world as well as the digital (if not more so!).  However,  I do think the story raises the question of how we best nurture young talent, both in and outside schools.

I like the idea of business advisors having surgeries in schools and youth clubs, helping young people to think about markets for their ideas, before they get squelched by the ‘real world’.  I’d love to hear of any case studies where this works (or doesn’t).

We’re lucky to live in a city like Manchester, where projects and partners are aiming to resolve  some of these issues.  Robots have been built at the  MADLAB,  and last year Innovation Manchester and the Manchester Innovation Investment Fund supported Creative Open Access – growing the inner geek in some of Manchester’s brightest young people.

Now a new course, also to be held at Cornerhouse, will not only nurture creativity in 18-24 year olds, but also introduce the skills to progress a career in the creative industries

At the core of the scheme, the kids at the App School will develop their ideas for an iPhone ‘app’, and they’ll work on those ideas throughout the programme. In addition, they’ll get training on things such as project management, team-working, presenting their work, and business & financial management. At the very end of the scheme, they’ll be pitching their ideas through to a panel of some of the city’s best creative companies – who, if they like what they see, will be able to offer them internships. If the ideas are good, the companies will actually create the ‘app’ as a joint venture.

If you know of any young people in Manchester, please help spread the word!

The course is being run by The White Room, in partnership with Manchester City Council, MMU, and Cornerhouse, and applications close next Sunday, 21st February.


The tables were turned on the adults last night at Urbis Manchester as a panel of schoolchildren scrutinised bids from their peers in the well known format of Dragon’s Den

Guests discussing their pitches to the young dragons

Guests discussing their pitches to the young dragons

The exercise was part of the launch of NESTA’s I-Discover programme in the city which aims to ensure that young people have the vital skills, confidence and self esteem to prepare them for the future world of work.

Pupils from selected schools  are given vouchers worth £200 each term for them to spend on amazing learning experiences of their choice.

The young people themselves will choose which learning experiences to spend their money on, with activities covering a host of themes – music, sport, science, art, technology, design, architecture, business, charity and loads more.

Pupils will emerge from the programme better prepared for the future – with energy and resilience and having developed creative and entrepreneurial talents.


Sir Howard Bernstein speaking at the launch of the I-Discover programme

Sir Howard Bernstein speaking at the launch of the I-Discover programme



Amongst those speaking at the event were Ben Aurora,Director of the Education stream at NESTA,and Sir Howard Bernstein,chief executive at Manchester City Council who stressed the importance of the programme for the city.

For the record,the winning “bid” selected was a scheme to encourage children to explore technologies to help alleviate the world’s problems such as climate change and famine.

I-Discover is funded jointly by NESTA and the Manchester innovation fund.

If conversation is key to innovation, then events like BarCamp play an important role in our Innovation Ecosystem.

Innovation Manchester members may be interested to know that on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8th November, a BarCamp will be held at the Contact Theatre.

BarCamp Manchester 2 is an open, free-to-attend, participatory 2-day unconference. Unconferences differ from normal conferences in that the schedule is created and filled by the attendees with everyone running a session or talk about whatever subject they have a passion for. From Cocktail Making to Programming for Beginners, from Arduino Hacking to Photography, BarCamps attract people from all sorts of backgrounds, each sharing their expertise and experiences.

BarCamp attendees come from all walks of life and ages 8-80; what they have in common is a passion for stimulating conversations and expanding their own knowledge. They love to give back to the community and a BarCamp is the perfect place to do this.

BarCamp attendees are not only the great thinkers of today, but the great thinkers of tomorrow. They are excited by the diversity of discussions and insights that are achieved in the intellectual melting pot that is BarCamp.

Additionally, if you know anyone who might like to sponsor the event, you can get in touch with the organisers through us here at Innovation Manchester. Sponsorship options range from £100 upwards, or provision of food, drinks, t-shirts etc. Options are very flexible!

Thanks for reading – please feel free to add to this discussion and tell us what you would talk about, or like to hear at an Unconference. Please feed back your experience (& photo’s) of the event, or even better, your talk there! Enjoy!

NOISE’s Vic Turnbull presents to David Evennett MP, Shadow Minister for Innovation Universities and Skills, at the NOISE Symposium on formal and non-formal learning paths.

Vic announces exclusive news of a NOISE hub for creativity to be opened on Manchester’s Market Street. Watch this space for details.
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Manchester: Knowledge Capital Ltd

Noise festival are running a great event today in the Chinese Art Centre, Manchester, considering formal versus non-formal learning. I am inspired by the people and debate here. The issue of accrediting non-formal education was kicked off by Dan Buckley, Head of Personalisation at Cambridge Education. Dan talked about sending work to ‘experts who had been there and done that’ for accredition, rather than an examination board.

Accreditation seems to be about ticking boxes. A formal educational approach being applied to a non-formal process.

What seems more valuable than accreditation is ‘recognition’. Web 2.0 has opened up opportunities for recognition and ‘accreditation’ by a global network, by peers or by  ‘heroes’.  In areas such as technology, where young people may know more than some of their teachers, the group consider the real value of an accreditation certificate?

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Sometimes it is not the big innovations that can make all the difference as the story of Manchester’s Sir Joseph Whitworth only proves too well.

Sometimes described as the father of precision engineering later working the father of computing,Charles Babbage he is perhaps best remembered for his ability to perfect existing ideas, to extremely high standards.

Sir Joseph Whitworth

Sir Joseph Whitworth

The Whitworth screw thread is amongst his legacies and they bear his name to this day.

He was born was born Stockport, Cheshire, in December 1803,becoming an apprentice at his uncle’s cotton spinning mill in Derbyshire, where he displayed an interest in machinery.

After four years he joined  Crighton and Co. a leading machine making company in Manchester.finally secured job at Henry Maudslay’s works.

By the middle of the 19th century,Whitworth had established himself as the foremost expert in precision and mechanical engineering winning awards at both the Paris and London exhibitions.

His later career is more associated with the armaments industry.His reputation as a precision engineer meant that he was asked to design a replacement for the Enfield rifle, which had not performed well during the Crimean War.

His work brought him into conflict with Sir William Armstrong and the two fought heavily over government armament contacts.

After both their deaths,their companies were to merge forming Armstrong Whitworth Company which had a factory in Openshaw.

He died in 1887 having retired to Monte Carlo.His legacy to the city included technology scholarships at what is now the University of Manchester.

Besides that he is commemorated in his home city by Whitworth Street in Central Manchester, Whitworth Street in Openshaw, the Whitworth Art Gallery and the adjoining Whitworth Park.

What a great way to attract talent!

This morning I had the privilege to view the shortlisted work of young people who had entered the UK Schools Animation Awards.

This is the second year that the University of Manchester Computer Science department has invited school children and Sixth Formers to enter  animated films  to this competition.

More than 800 films were entered from 200 schools all across the UK.  One minute in length, they were produced in Scratch, Alice or Flash – funny, informative and incredibly creative.  Seven judges picked the winners and runners up in categories ranging from Key Stage 2 to 16+.

That’s right, these film makers ranged in age from 7 to 19 years old. The winner of the ‘Most Educational Film’ category highlighted the plight of the Spanish Lynx. I remember drawing a Lynx in pencil crayons when I was at Junior school – the fact that a young girl of similar age had animated and narrated a film on the subject is astounding!

This is a great initiative by the University of Manchester – year on year, they will be connecting and developing relationships with the Lasseters and Spielburgs of tomorrow .

The spokesman from the sponsor Electronic Arts urged the young film-makers to opt for traditional subjects such as maths and sciences. I’m confident that they will not only remember his words when choosing their degrees, but will also remember an inspiring and educational day in  Manchester’s  Museum of Science and Industry when picking their place to study.

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