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Young people can think big at council-backed innovation skills bootcamp

Young people in Leeds can take an important step towards a healthy future in the world of business by applying for places at a new innovation bootcamp.

Jointly funded by Leeds City Council and Leeds City College, the GENie (Generation of Innovators and Entrepreneurs) bootcamp is an intensive five-day experience designed for big thinkers and change makers. It is open to 16 to 20-year-olds from diverse backgrounds in Leeds who want to power up their personal and professional development by learning more about creative thinking, leadership, problem solving, teamwork and communication.

Participants at the free event – taking place at NEXUS, the University of Leeds’s innovation hub – will also gain invaluable insights into the best ways to build a business and make ideas become a commercial reality. Next month’s bootcamp will have a particular focus on the health and wellbeing sectors, with employers and founders from those fields on hand each day to talk about their work and reveal the secrets of their success.

The city region is home to 70 per cent of the country’s top 20 health tech firms, with potential for major growth in health innovation thanks to extensive local assets in sectors such as data, computing and artificial intelligence.

Speakers at the bootcamp are set to include Maddie Julian (DigiBete), Joe Gaunt (Hero Wellbeing), Paul Baverstock (Caterpillar Health), Sophie Walshe (Another Space VR) and Claire Paxman (Paxman Scalp Cooling) as well as a representative from the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Paxman Scalp Cooling and digital technology specialists net-company are providing sponsorship.

The week’s mix of talks, workshops and question-and-answer sessions will, it is hoped, give the young people the tools they need to go on and make a positive, long-term difference to society.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education said:

“We know that Leeds is home to many young people with the kind of talent, drive and ideas that can change lives for the better. The GENie bootcamp will hopefully provide a launchpad for some of those young people to become the innovators and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

“We are very grateful to Leeds City College and everyone else involved for their support – it will be fascinating to see how the event comes together and then, afterwards, to follow the future progress of the participants.

“This initiative is an example of the actions we are taking with our partners across the city as part of our Future Talent Plan, ensuring that our people and businesses are able to thrive, both now and in years to come.”

Georgina Yates, head of careers, work experience and progression at Leeds City College said:

“Leeds City College is committed to equipping students with the skills, knowledge, behaviours and experience to forge successful lives and careers. For the successful applicants GENie will do just this, as well as contributing to the city’s investment in future and emerging talent. The GENie programme will give young people in Leeds a unique opportunity to develop new skills, explore and challenge ideas and expand their horizons.

“The programme, through its focus on the dynamic health and digital growth sectors, will enable participants to experience the innovation and entrepreneurship that is at the heart of the city, and will provide a platform for the next generation to start to form ideas, find creative solutions and build networks.”

The programme content is being designed and delivered by Cockerton + Co, a collective founded by serial entrepreneur Claire Cockerton. A total of 20 places are on offer for the bootcamp, which will run from April 4 to 8 inclusive. Although April’s event will concentrate on the health and wellbeing sectors, further GENie bootcamps are being planned that will have a focus on different subject areas such as climate tech and sustainable innovation.

The scheme underlines the council’s long-standing commitment to the city’s innovation ecosystem and its role in ensuring that people from all backgrounds have the means to make the most of their talents in core markets such as digital and other emerging technologies. A separate council initiative, Innovation@Leeds, recently provided funding for a series of conferences and other knowledge-sharing events aimed at aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs.

For further information about the application process, e-mail ukgenerationie@gmail.com The deadline for applications is Wednesday, March 23.

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