Impactathon Series Combines Business & Education to Help Young People Succeed | Net Impact

Impactathon Series Combines Business & Education to Help Young People Succeed

Team Vancouver wins top prize in SAP and Net Impact competition 

The story is universal: young people all across the world have goals they would like to achieve, but obstacles can seem insurmountable. Perhaps a student in Philadelphia wants to aim for a four-year college degree despite little support at home, or a young professional from Shanghai has an idea for a startup but no resources to get things started. In the face of these apparent gaps, how might we equip young people with the tools to improve their lives and communities?

Over the last year in 12 cities across 4 continents, passionate groups of students set out to create solutions to these problems during the SAP Impactathon Series. With Post-its in hand, participants followed a human-centered design framework to conceive, iterate, and prototype innovative ideas for NGOs and social enterprises sponsored by software company SAP. The top team from each event had the chance to further refine their idea, hoping to be crowned the global winner of the Impactathon series.

Net Impact and SAP are pleased to announce that the team from Vancouver, Canada produced the most promising idea during the final round competition, featuring incredible collaboration and creativity.

The winning submission originated at the Vancouver Impactathon, where a team of 7 students came together to prototype Bud—an app that connects young people with projects and mentors that align with their professional interests. “By drawing on my own experience and leveraging our team members’ diverse skill sets, we created a tailored solution centered entirely on the unique needs of our young audience,” said Vancouver team member Katya Pokrovskaya. Through an easy-to-use interface that integrates with social media platforms like LinkedIn, Bud aims to simplify the complexities of navigating the networking space, particularly for high school students that may lack support in their school systems or at home. To learn more, watch the Bud video pitch below:

“All of the ideas presented for the Impactathon final series were thoughtful, human-centered, and creative, which made judging no easy task,” says Net Impact’s Lily Mathews. As just a few examples, Team Mannheim pitched a computer game that allowed young people to explore the triumphs and pitfalls of becoming a social entrepreneur; Team Seoul designed a university course that would provide advice and support for students interested in forming a startup company; and Team Porto Alegre developed Entrepreneurship on Wheels, a self-contained bus that brings innovation and opportunity closer to young people in Brazil with creative ideas.

The design thinking process that was integral to the Impactathon framework allowed for the students to be open and original with their ideas. “It became clear that design thinking is an easily-strengthened muscle, and it’s okay if things feel like a disaster in the first 95 percent of the process,” remarked Vancouver team member Jordan Palmer. And though Bud may not have been a fully formed idea from the beginning, the final result has the potential to make a real impact for those who need it most. The Vancouver team, along with the rest of our Impactathon participants, showed us that with the right tools and a hefty dose of creative teamwork, innovative change is possible. 

Learn more about the SAP and Net Impact Impactathon Series outcomes below.