Key professionals praise young people in Wales for their problem-solving approach

Future Story LABbers

One of the UK’s leading wealth managers has praised a group of young proto innovation journalists in Wales for their solutions to real-world problem.

Lee Robertson who is also CEO of Octo, the first app-based private community for UK financial services professionals, called the young journalists “truly inspirational”, adding, it was a privilege to see their work and ideas.

Lee was joined in his admiration for the team by several other professionals from broadcasting, tech, start-ups, and communications and believes the scheme has the potential to be rolled out across Wales and nationally.

Presenting at Cardiff University’s flag ship auditorium under socially distance guidelines, MA students presented a spectrum of concept prototypes and ideas to professionals online under the Emerging Journalism / Future Story Lab programme.

They include:

  1. A website campaign to address period poverty
  2. Deep fake technology to teach children history not taught in schools
  3. Visual infographics which can be accessed on mobiles
  4. A blood donation scheme which would facilitate better blood donor matches and eliminate waste
  5. A consultancy platform for your entrepreneurs
  6. A travel app in Wales
  7. An agency for young gay people to recognise iconic role models.

Creativity, critical and communication skills and complex problem solving are key areas taught to students identified by managers and Linkedin as primary skills.

The programme is a unique partnership with Tramshed Tech (named by Wired magazine as “one of the UK’s Top Ten co-working spaces”) Its Enterprise Innovation Manager Jess Phillips congratulated the group and urged them to continue pursuing their ideas.

Run over 12-weeks it’s designed to introduce cohorts to startup, team work collaboration and storytelling practices within an interdisciplinary delivery. It uses a scheme devised by the lecturing team called the STACKED model which is produced from the LEAN approach and Japanese system of Kaizen. Students are also provided with an industry mentor for one-on-one conversations.

Writing on Linkedin, student Amogh George says:

In week 1 of the second semester, I was introduced to a bizarre experiment of coming up with products by looking at a random shape. I honestly thought it was weird, but now I believe I have learnt to see a potential story in every passing moment of the day.

Week 10 of the semester, here I was pitching a potential million pound idea about blood donation to a group of absolutely fantastic, enormously experienced mentors.

For the students it’s about understanding discovery, and that in creativity failure is a natural part of the process that can lead to breakthroughs by further improvements on their experience. The mentors bring a different voice and experience which adds to, as well as supports their learning.

Students hailed the experience like working in a real agency an “incredible experience”.

This is the third year of the LAB at Cardiff which is now looking for professional support to grow. The idea partly came from creating a similar programme at a university in London and its Vice Chancellor Geoffrey Copland in 2012 expressing his view of future learning.

In previous years the approach has been used to aid students from China’s leading university Communication University in China.

Books like Range by David Epstein, Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come from and Zig Zag by Keith Sawyers help support the idea that anyone can enhance their creativity.

It’s about recognising patterns and approaching problems with a solution-focused mind. That means acknowledging that any endeavour is strewn with challenges, and to overcome them requires managing expectations and engaging in multiple feedback loops, whilst owning that responsibility. The solutions can be anything from the development of an Apps workflow, a web design, VR, promos, blogging or Cinema Journalism.

There’s an emphasis presenting to the a panel and being as good as the best competitors on Dragon’s Den, or Tank Shark. There’s a formula to this which is taught. The course recognises that no one is expected to have solutions off the bat, but that strategies are developed within the team, whilst building resilience.

The eureka moment can arise often without cohorts realising how much they’ve adapted to new industry skills, hard and soft; from learning to be agile and pivoting on ideas to building confidence in presentations. The programme culminates in a 7–8 minute pitch with a slide deck whose design schema is modelled to be receptive by users and behavioural psychologists. And above all it should be fun. Gamification and the science of learning kicks in here.

Previous cohorts have gone on to develop their ideas and the programme has helped students land their “dream jobs”.

Last year, Mayo Twala’s financial start up, Stock Up, that facilitates the less well off to save has gained considerable attention in Wales in its Fintech. Stock Up has become a burgeoning business.

Mayo was Mentored by Iain Tweedale, a serial innovator whose leadership career spans film, the TV industry, digital media, AI in Journalism and broadcasting for the likes of the BBC and IBM, several technology start-ups.

Nasma Aljizawi, who was a former student of mine, turned her collective experience and knowledge of refugees departing Syria into a prototypical mobile app. Her mentor at the time Stephen Wheatley, Co founder of Hear Angel, rejoined her later after she acquired seed funding to develop her project.

Nasma’s amazing final project work

Going back even further, the LAB approach enabled students to pitch their ideas to the highest levels visiting google and the BBC.

Class of 2021

The ambition for the programme is to build on its interdisciplinary approach, and network of mentors, and turn itself into a wider platform bridging academia and commercial enterprise and entrepreneurial skills with innovative storytelling.

More stories and videos of presentations to follow

  • Chantal Cooke is Managing Director of Panpathic Communications and is an an award winning journalist.
  • Oliver Thomas is Sales and Marketing Manager from Wagonex and possesses a deep and wide range of experience in start ups
  • Robin Moore is a Digital Innovation specialist. Until recently he was head of Innovation at BBC Wales
  • Iain Tweedale is a Digital strategist in broadcasting and AI, advising tech start-ups and a Leadership trainer and content producer working for amongst others IBM and BBC
  • Jess Philips is Enterprise Innovation Manager at Tramshed Tech and manages a suite of innovative projects and partnerships lead for Tramshed Tech
  • Toby White is the founder of MarketMate — an AI platform. He builds AI solutions as part of his company @ ARTIMUS and at 24 years of age sits on several tech boards as an advisor.
  • Mohammed Alamgir is the co-founding owner and Managing Director of Rhino IT, a national IT Recruitment Consultancy and part of the Rhino Group Holdings, a powerhouse in the recruitment industry.
  • Stephen Wheatley is cofounder of HearAngel and a serial entrepreneur and experienced Growth Consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the management consulting industry.
  • Lee Robertson BA Chartered FCSI FRSA is CEO and founder Octo Members. He’s an award winning wealth manager, formerly CEO and founder of Investment Quorum Limited and forth Master of the Guild of Entrepreneurs, now called the Company of Entrepreneurs. Lee and Stephen have been Mentors to young people in LAB spaces with me ( David) for the last 5 years.

Emerging Journalism programme ie Future Story LAB is run by Dr David Dunkley Gyimah and James Taylor, a tech specialist. To find out more about the Future Story LAB click here

Personal news. Amongst its 100m active users Medium has voted me as one of their top writers in Journalism. For more on me and comments from the likes of Channel 4’s Jon Snow go here.

Top Writer & Creative Technologist, Int. Award Winner. Cinemajournalist. Cardiff Uni @jomec. PhD (Dublin). Visiting Prof UBC, Ex BBC/C4News. Apple profiled.