Academics, industry experts and investors explore the future of achieving tangible social impact.
Social Impact Day, hosted by Imperial College Business School, brought together academics, entrepreneurs, students and industry experts to explore and celebrate how to achieve tangible social impact and improve lives in the world through business, enterprise and work.
Social impact is a complicated business, but I’m really glad that at Imperial, impact and business are things we take very seriously. Professor Stephen Curry Associate Vice-Rector for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
The event was organized by the Gandhi Center for Inclusive Innovation, based at Imperial College Business School and moderated by Professor Sankalp Chaturvedi, Professor of Organizational Behavior and Leadership and Director of the Centre. The theme of this year’s event was rebuilding trust and impacting the future, looking at mental health and hybrid working, as well as diversity and technology.
Diversity in technology
In a keynote address, Professor Stephen Curry, assistant vice-president for equality, diversity and inclusion at Imperial, discussed the value of research, acknowledging the impact in the real world and the diversity of technology.
On the latter, he said: “Technology is created by people and if we want to ensure that we create the right technology for the world, we must include a diversity of scientists, engineers, doctors and entrepreneurs. in all these companies. We need to bring together all the diverse perspectives in this regard, in order to make informed decisions about the most important issues to be addressed.
“It is a guiding principle of Imperial’s equality, diversity and inclusion strategy, as our commitment to equality and diversity is to ensure that we maximize the quality, relevance and impact of everything we do.
“Social impact is a complicated business, but I’m really happy that at Imperial, impact and business are things we take very seriously.”
Ideas to impact
The event explored how entrepreneurship can have a positive social impact and solve global problems, inviting students to come up with innovative new business cases as part of the Ideas to Impact challenge.
Seven teams of student entrepreneurs had the opportunity to pitch their ideas that could solve some of the world’s biggest challenges and impact a million lives, with the top three teams receiving seed funding and mentoring, ongoing mentorship and support from College experts. .
The first prize of £7,000 was won by Sukoon Care, which is developing a bespoke program to provide stress-free and accessible home-based rehabilitation care for people with cardiovascular conditions. Their text-based app aims to help patients arrange home visits and sessions with a nurse. The nurse is guided by the app to tailor the recovery program to the patient’s needs, covering exercise, diet, lifestyle and mental well-being. Sukoon Care was founded by bioscience graduates Hansa Shree, Akhilesh Sivaraman and Jeannine Coelho.
The second prize of £5,000 went to Sporadicate, which is developing a non-toxic targeted biofungicide system to combat fungal diseases in plants. Biofungicides are fungi or bacteria applied to the soil to prevent or stop bacterial or fungal infections of plants and roots. The team is made up of molecular bioengineering students Shirin Bamezai and Alessandro Serafini.
Awarded with seed funding of £3,000, third place went to Sow Foods who make plant-based meat using simple, sustainable and natural ingredients. Using special formulation and production methods, the team claims their products have a distinguished chewy texture, exceptional flavors and are made from simple ingredients. Sow Foods was co-founded by Dan Tang, a graduate of the MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Management program.
The other teams that participated in the Ideas to Impact challenge were:
- PregoPal - focusing on providing working pregnant women with easy access to practical and emotional support during the second and third trimesters.
- Resolut – empowering stewardship among retail investors.
- Athena Straw – tackling the problem of doped drinks in pubs and clubs
- AwaGee – a personalized marketplace connecting consumers with sustainable brands that reflect their values, aiming to demystify and simplify sustainable fashion.
At the event, two expert panels discussed adopting diverse and new technologies and building mental resilience in the hybrid world.
Discussing diverse and new technologies, moderated by Assistant Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Dr. Ying-Ying Hsieh, were Natalia Bayona, Director of Innovation, Education and Investments at the United Nations – World Organization Tourism, Karimi Kihato, Director of People Ops Projects at Matillion, David Shrier, CEO and Co-Founder of Esme Learning and Professor of Practice, AI and Innovation at Imperial College Business School and Nick Rosa, Metaverse Strategy & Extended Reality Lead Europe & APAC at Accenture.
Professor Sankalp Chaturvedi then moderated the panel on mental resilience, with Chris Ruane Ex-MP, Vale of Clwyd (Wales) and Trustee at Oxford University Mindfulness Centre, Laura Noval, Associate Professor at Rennes School of Business, Aneeka Gupta, Director – Equity & Commodities Strategist at WisdomTree and Keshav Murugesh, Group Managing Director at WNS Global Services.