Entrepreneurial spirit is thriving in Devon, thanks to an innovative new scheme run by the University of Plymouth.

The Techstars Startup Weekend brought together like-minded developers, business professionals, entrepreneurs and marketing enthusiasts, with new tech-based ideas pitched to a panel of industry judges. Supported by the Real Ideas Organisation, Plymouth Science Park and the EPIC project at the University, the weekend event included the creation of trailblazing business concepts, development of prototypes and presentation of final schemes. A total of five teams came together to create their innovative new ideas, all with a health and wellbeing theme.

A gaming network to curb mental health, AI to detect cataracts and cut down on NHS costs and an online tool to help people track their wellbeing were among the technological ideas developed.

Techstars organisers said the successful weekend was a reflection of the entrepreneurial talent which already exists in Plymouth along with an exciting future as the University and partners seek to build a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem to benefit the creative economy in the coming years.

Chris Bennewith, Head of the School of Art, Design & Architecture, said: “Dealing with the challenges facing society requires an approach that is both creative, and makes full use of the latest advances in technology. Plymouth’s first Startup Weekend was a great opportunity for anyone who had an idea, but was not certain how to put it into practice.”

The two-day event was a pilot for a series of further Techstars weekends to be delivered by the University over the next three years as part of iMayflower, a £6 million collaborative programme designed to build Plymouth’s creative industries and nurture creative people power across the city.

The scheme is also a key way to bring the University and business community together, forging closer links and establishing strong working relationships. Business people from across the city shared their knowledge as judges and coaches for the Techstars weekend from companies including software organisation Vualto, digital product design and engineering studio Evident and Software Cornwall.

Rupert Lorraine, Development & Partnership Manager (Creative Economy), said: “Experiences like this have the power to transform peoples’ lives. In the coming years we will see significant investments being made into creative and cultural economic development across the city; we need to make that success work better for everyone in Plymouth.”

Following a series of business pitches, the judging panel chose MemoryPad, a mindfulness photography app aimed at parents, as overall winner and One-Link-One, a peer to peer connection app for students as runner up. The two teams will now be given working space, marketing services, support with a Crowdfunder campaign, a pitch at Venturefest SW and coaching as a way to develop their ideas further.

Ben Cole, who was part of the winning MemoryPad team praised the event. He said: “It was truly a magical experience for anyone who loves an idea and wants to share it with the world.”

Techstars took place from April 26th to 28th and was organised by The Bridge at the University of Plymouth, an initiative designed to increase the growth, productivity and resilience of the creative industry in the South West by bringing together business and academia.

For more information about Plymouth Startup Weekends and to be involved in future events, visit https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/business-partners/creative-economy/the-bridge