Things have been moving rapidly at Exeter City Futures since our Challenge Definition Workshop on 6th december. We thought it was time for an update…
From the work that was done at the workshop we developed a set of challenge briefs, interesting questions, that were loaded onto the Crowdicity Platform and we set about encouraging the Exeter community to vote for the challenges that they would like to see solved.
10 interesting questions were put out for the vote and we received a really enthusiastic response with 194 votes placed. The graphic below shows the split of votes.
The purpose of the voting was to identify a set of interesting questions that we had support for within the Exeter community that we could open for applications into our inaugural accelerator cohort. We took the decision to combine the two challenges around active transportation – “How can we make cycling in Exeter more appealing, more accessible and more efficient than driving?” and “How can we enable 50% more active transportation through the Exeter city planning process” – and formed a single interesting question on this topic. This gave us 5 clear questions to put forward as call for applicants.
On 17 January we launched the challenges on the Exeter City Futures website and begin to market the opportunity through our networks. We called for applications from teams of 2-4 people who want to make a genuine and sustainable difference to transport and energy use in Exeter and offered grants of up to £15,000 to help get started. Teams will benefit from access to a 15-week programme that offers access to City leadership and networks plus a bespoke package of support depending on the needs of the team.
There was a significant interest shown in the accelerator from Future Cities Catapult and their support was valuable in reaching entrepreneurs with potential solutions. A few weeks into the process we were also contacted by F6S – a platform specifically designed to facilitate applications into start-up accelerators and network between start-ups and funders – they worked with us to list our accelerator and challenges on the platform and this increased our reach significantly.
The challenges closed for applications on 26 February. We received a total of 36 applications from as far afield as Moscow!
Now we are beginning our review process. Once we have confirmed eligibility then we will begin arranging panel interviews. Local teams will be invited straight to a face-face panel interview. But to minimise unnecessary travel and expense, any national or international candidates will first be invited to a Skype interview. The purpose of this Skype interview will be to find out more about rationale for applying, expectations of the process and desire to make a sustainable difference in Exeter.
It is of vital importance that we select teams that have the right attitude to come together a cohort and develop solutions that will bring maximum benefit and opportunity within Exeter. Teams who continue to meet eligibility criteria and demonstrate a genuine desire to make impact in Exeter will be invited to travel to Exeter for face-face panel interview.
The face-face assessment panel will be held at the Exeter City Futures offices. It is up to the teams themselves to decide on how they will present to the panel (pitch, film, etc.) but they will have a time limit of 20 minutes. The assessment panel will then get an opportunity to ask questions for 10 minutes.
The assessment panel will be chosen to enable review of the technical solutions proposed. The attendees are yet to be finalised but the panel will comprise: a relevant technical expert, representative from Oxygen House Investments Ltd (as the grant provider), a representative of ECC, plus a panel member from the entrepreneur community and a member drawn from the general Exeter community (as potential end user of any solution).
The teams will be selected for entry into the accelerator programme based on the panel assessment and the original application.
The assessment process is expected to conclude by the end of March with successful teams starting in the inaugural cohort at the end of April.