Big Idea Challenge 2019

This week, the British Council in Georgia organized an enterprise video pitch competition for the participants of the Creative Spark: Higher Education Enterprise Program. The Creative Spark program is a five-year initiative that began in 2018. In 2019, it will fund 12 international partnerships between universities and creative institutions with up to GBP 40,000.

The program aims to develop entrepreneurship skills and the creative economy across seven countries: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Ukraine. The primary beneficiaries are university students, graduates and young entrepreneurs.

“We believe this initiative will significantly support the development of the creative economy in Georgia, and young creative entrepreneurs will acquire new skills which will, in the longer term, make them competitive for local and international markets. Moreover, the program will support the establishment and development of the British-Georgian University/institutional partnerships,” said the British Council.

Along with other top figures from government and the private sector, Deputy Head of Mission from the UK, Alexandra Cole, attended the competition’s finale on Wednesday, July 17. “Creative Spark is one of the most practical programs we run here. It helps young people turn ideas into income. I’m really glad that I can be here this evening for the final as part of the UK’s support for Georgia’s continued, inclusive economic growth,” said Cole.

“Creative Spark is a program we are most proud of...Even at the end of the first year, we are already observing the development of the creative industry infrastructure in the country,” added Zaza Purtseladze, Director of the British Council in the South Caucasus and Georgia.

Nino Enukidze, Dean of Faculty at BTU, noted that her university was “very honored to have an opportunity to host the final event of the project,” and that “the project itself was very useful and interesting because it helped creative industries in the country to promote themselves, develop themselves, and position themselves as fast growing international startups, not only on the local market but also on the international market.”

On Wednesday evening, selected program participants gathered at Business and Technical University (BTU) to pitch their startups for the Big Idea Challenge. Young people from participating countries were invited to develop innovative startups and share their ideas with the world. The call received more than 300 submissions from the seven program countries, 53 of which came from Georgia alone.

The Big Idea Challenge had three categories: digital technology, social impact and creative. One winner in each category and an overall champion were selected by an international panel. In Georgia, the country champion, and winner of the creative category, was Sapo from BTU, represented by Naili Vakhania and Tengiz Kavkasidze. The digital technology category was won by startup iWant from the Tbilisi State Art Academy (TSAA), represented by Levan Tkemaladze, Giorgi Sheshaberidze, and David Paichadze. Another startup from TSAA won the social impact category – Chu, represented by Salome and Guram Tsikvadze. Fans voted online for the People’s Choice award until July 14, choosing Virtual Tickets from Ilia State University’s Mariami Devnosadze, Sopo Kardenakhishvili, and Revazi Shalashvili. All winners took home prizes of packaged marketing, business support and mentoring for their startups, and receive access to a series of programs, opportunities, and information on professional development. The Country Champion, Sapo, won a study visit to the UK to participate in the upcoming World Championship.

The British Council is the UK’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities. Since 1934, they have been working in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society in over 100 countries. Last year the Council reached over 75 million people directly and 758 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications.

By Samantha Guthrie

Image source: British Council

18 July 2019 18:53