This year Digifest saw nine startups in a battle to bag up to £10,000 per company, and earn expert advice to improve their products to benefit students and institutions alike.
Each startup pitched their idea to a panel of expert judges, as well as presenting to an audience of Digifest delegates who were waiting to hear how each startup could help to tackle sector challenges.
Students were a key theme at Digifest from the off, with NUS president, Shakira Martin, featuring as the opening keynote speaker. Martin said:
“I’m optimistic about how digital technology can help students across tertiary education. It is vital that we have an education system that is adaptable and flexible for all students.”
So who are the winning startups, and how could their ideas work for you?
Solving money matters
Blackbullion is an award-winning startup on a mission to raise the financial capability of students and support student service departments to ensure student success. This learning platform is for students who want to take control of their money and reduce debt-related stress. Students can tune into four-minute sessions delivered on a variety of media.
Vivi Friedgut, CEO and founder, said:
“Jisc, as a champion of digital excellence and innovation in the UK education sector, is a natural partner for Blackbullion, and the support and scale-up knowledge and experience of Emerge would be of huge benefit… We aren’t the first company to work towards solving financial illiteracy, but we hope to be the last.”
Making medical connections
Using the principles of social networking, Oslr connects medical professionals to reinvigorate the community, allowing them to share resources and learning opportunities.
Adam Pennycuick, CEO, said:
“Bedside teaching with real patients is a crucial part of any doctor’s training. In recent years this has reduced dramatically due to financial pressure, shorter patient stays and changes to working patterns. The medical community is increasingly fragmented, leading to fewer teaching opportunities for students.
“Through commercial partnerships we will allow users to connect their real-life learning around a patient with a wealth of existing high quality online resources. The data we collect is valuable to medical schools and trusts, it will inform curricula and improve future teaching. In the future we plan to involve patients directly in our platform.”
Boosting careers through volunteering
This digital career development platform aims to improve student employability through matching them with volunteering opportunities. VOLO's cloud-based administrator dashboard allows university teams to manage and view live, aggregated data on all extracurricular activity for individual students or cohorts. This enables the provision of more enriching career-targeted experiences, while monitoring the efficacy.
Melissa Mitchell, CEO, said:
“VOLO simultaneously enables students to find career-focussed skilled volunteering roles, as well as providing a VOLO profile where career development hours, learnings and reflections can quickly be added from anywhere in the world. This profile includes their personal recommendations and earned awards, which are then presented in easy-to-navigate format, which can be sent to potential employers, or to support future interviews.”
Using science to make study snappier
Synap is an intelligent online learning platform that lets people study with short, impactful sessions, using memory science to focus on the areas they need to practice, and helping students to study more effectively.
James Gupta, founder and CEO, said:
“After developing the product over years to prepare for our own university exams, and attracting tens of thousands of users in the process, we are now able to offer universities and colleges their own study platform, powered by the same technology and user experience that made Synap so popular.
“From the institution’s perspective, this means they can set up their own formative assessment or study platform, which integrates with their existing systems, complete with mobile apps, at a fraction of the cost. It also means they can improve student satisfaction, reduce the number of people failing exams, and have access to extremely valuable ‘low-stakes assessment data’ which will inform how their curriculum is implemented, and can be used as part of 360 degree feedback.”
Helping international students to land their dream careers
For international students in the UK, this niche job search platform has the ultimate aim of helping UK universities grow and sustain enrolments by leveraging employability. Student Circus finds filtered jobs from companies which can sponsor Tier-2 work visas in the UK, as well as providing immigration assistance to students with visa-related enquiries, and even nudging students as they come closer to their visa expiry date.
Tripti Maheshwari and Dhruv Krishnaraj, the founders of Student Circus, said:
“We came to the UK as international students and struggled to find jobs. We faced the challenges we are now trying to tackle first-hand drove us to bring about a change. We went back to India, formalised the idea and applied for the graduate entrepreneur visa to begin our venture back to the UK. We are building this platform for graduates who are highly motivated and bring in much desired diversity to organisations.”
Do you have an edtech idea?
Are you a student over 16 years from a sixth form, further education college or university? Have you got an edtech idea that would make life better for learners, teaching staff and researchers in the UK? The student ideas competition, also part of the Jisc Edtech Launchpad, is now open.
Join in the conversation on Twitter using #studentideas.