International students make an impact with energy design sprint.

Students from across the world came together with Cambridge Leadership College students to join us for a one week design sprint to tackle the challenge of how to make energy as abundant as music.

Using the design sprint framework developed by Google Ventures we were supported by IdeaSpace, a Cambridge University venture who are working towards the development of high impact new ventures. Based at the British Antarctic Survey building in Cambridge we were inspired by the spirit of exploration and innovation in challenging situations.

Throughout the week the team were joined by numerous experts and interested collaborators who were keen to contribute to the objective of creating a prototype that would make it possible to meet the challenge set out at the beginning of the week.

Dr Chris Loughlan, CEO, Cambridge Institute for Innovation joined the team at various points in the week. “I had the pleasure of attending the design sprint on addressing the ‘energy trilemma’ and a “grass-roots” approach to making a difference and creating a meaningful impact. International students shine @CambridgeLeader”.

Alan Cowley, from the Invested Investor group, also joined the team halfway through the project to offer a sounding board for some of the ideas that were being generated during the individual idea sketching process.

Three different approaches to the challenge were chosen after a period of research, individual idea sketching, lightning demonstrations and heat pattern voting. Day four saw a relentless schedule of work to build the prototypes. Pitch decks, websites, social media accounts, a guiding principles document, infographics, an app and three presentations were all generated in that one day.

On Friday, the final day of the sprint, a panel of interesting, and interested, business professionals was convened to hear the three groups present their prototypes to tackling the challenge of how to make energy as abundant as music.

The panel included:
Peter Dawe, OBE, Entrepreneur.
Dr Chris Loughlan, CEO, Cambridge Institute for Innovation.
Andrew Hawkins, Business Strategy and Funding Consultant, The Mercantile Group.
Matthew Polaine, Innovation Manager, British Antarctic Survey.
Terri Roberts, Community and Office Managers, IdeaSpace.
Pilvi Muschitiello, Aurora Support Team Member, British Antarctic Survey.

The presentation began with an explanation of an overarching ecosystem that would be in the form of a web-based platform to enable anyone to contribute to the solving of a world issue, the website was demonstrated and the guiding principles outlined. The next group explained how they would run a competition for the creation of a zero energy homes community with financial backing from the UN, governments and housing developers. There was also a presentation on appropriate legislation to enable the abundance of energy to occur. The final group showcased a platform to match individuals with charities that are aligned with their own values that will allow them to subscribe and become more involved.

“If you want to change the world you need to do it in spite of legislations. You identified that the government wants to maintain the status quo. If energy was free their whole tax base disappears. I was impressed you identified that” was one of the opening comments from Peter Dawe. Panellists also asked students to justify the thinking behind the ecosystem idea which allowed an exploration of the guiding principle of global collaboration.

“What I liked about this was the ability to choose what you developed and what you worked on which was cool. I think it was an enjoyable experience” was one of the student comments. “I really liked working and collaborating with others to bring our combined ideas into fruition and making them real” was another comment from a local Cambridge student who joined the design sprint.

We were thrilled with the feedback from both the panellists and the participants of the design sprint regarding the quality of the outputs as well as the overall experience of the design sprint week.

Cambridge Leadership College has design sprints planned throughout the 2018-19 academic year.
22-26 October 2018
18-22 February 2019
17-21 June 2019
If you would like to take part in a design sprint week then please contact us at for further information.


Click the links to read more detail about the energy design sprint week:

Cambridge students take part in international energy design sprint

International student project to support energy abundance takes shape

Tricky decisions are made on day three of the international student design sprint


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