Students will team up with others from all over the world to try and solve UN goals

The Ziggurat buildings at the UEA. University of East Anglia. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

The Ziggurat buildings at the UEA. University of East Anglia. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Students in Norwich will join others from more than 20 universities across the world to try and solve issues stemming from the United Nations' Global Goals.

Some 42 UEA students will try to harness the power of collaboration by creating virtual, mutli-national teams with other young people in eight countries – the UK, Argentina, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Finland, Ghana and India - on November 11.

They'll work together over 24 hours to design a product or service that addresses one of two issues - food security or sustainable housing - in the competition known as Social Storm.

UEA is a founding partner of Social Storm, which is part of Global Entrepreneurship Week and has been running since 2014.

'This is an amazing opportunity for UEA students to show how they could make a significant and lasting difference in the world,' said Finbarr Carter, UEA's Enterprise Development Officer.

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'Social Storm projects could change the lives of vulnerable people by applying an entrepreneurial mindset and skills to social issues. We're passionate about encouraging and supporting all kinds of entrepreneurship and enterprising activity here at UEA. Social Storm shows how much can be achieved in a short time when we harness students' creativity and resourcefulness and utilise the benefits of technology.'

Social Storm operates entirely in a virtual space, allowing students across the world to work together without having to set foot on a plane.

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Ian Wathira, a third year Actuarial Science student, was involved in the competition the last two years.

He said: 'Taking part in global Social Storm has been one of the highlights of my academic stay. It helped me network with like-minded individuals from all over the world, blossomed friendships that lasted more than the 24 hours and made me feel like part of the solution. Social Storm offers a platform to those who know that they can help make the world a better place a chance to hone their skills and, more importantly, to learn how diversified the world's problems are.'

This year, extra efforts are being made to help students turn their ideas into reality.

Mr Carter said: 'We mentor our teams throughout the process and, after 24 hours, each team must produce a summary business plan and three-minute video pitch of the product or service they propose as a solution.

'Although there can only be one winner, we'll help students who want to take their ideas further by offering coaching, mentoring and access to networks and funding, as with our other student entrepreneurs.

'In previous year, ideas that have sprung from the event from our students include educational programmes aimed at reducing gender inequality, apps to connect tourists to local cooks to increase employment and crowdfunding-style platforms to promote investment in clean tech businesses.

'The opportunity for collaboration, creativity and experimentation is as important as the solutions themselves. Previous winners have included the idea of selling condoms in the developed world to raise money to create social change in the developing world and using the military to deliver education to the poorest parts of the world.'

You can follow the progress of Social Storm on Twitter @socialstormhack

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