Bridging the gap between top young talent and the business world

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Future Ideas is a non-profit foundation that connects innovators from around the world to stimulate the development of ideas. The organisation introduces talented graduates to successful business leaders to help increase the value of academic knowledge, which is often left behind by students on graduation day.

“Nothing much happens after a graduate receives the grade for their thesis. Of course, this is an exciting time and a great achievement but it’s often where the journey for their idea ends. Completed assignments get filed away in a drawer and life moves on, locking away valuable knowledge. Our community of innovators and business leaders helps to recycle and upcycle academic work and provides graduates with the opportunity to develop their ideas into the next big thing,” Aneliya Evtimova, Chief Relationship Officer of Future Ideas, told Follow Innovation.

The Future Ideas team organises academic competitions which any graduate can enter by submitting their thesis, honours project or university research to the Future Ideas platform. Registered users of the platform can view all submissions and comment on ideas from other like-minded innovators within the online community.

“Our first academic competition took place in The Netherlands in 2012 and was really created as an opportunity for people to share their university research with others and learn about where it might be applied in the real world. Following the success of this initial competition we launched our first international competition in Europe later that year, the finale for this took place in Amsterdam with people travelling from all over Europe to take part. In 2014 we set up another international competition, which was the first time we opened the competition to Bachelors students as well as Masters students. We have seen the number of applications grow at each competition and this year we decided to go global and open the event to the whole world,” said Aneliya.

Applications are divided into 6 themes of the future: business, community, health, design, sustainability and technology. A jury of expert innovators selects 18 winning ideas for each competition, three from each of the main themes. Entries are evaluated on the thoroughness and depth of the research, originality and relevance, as well as the feasibility of turning the idea into a real-life product or service.

Competition winners receive a cash prize of EUR 1000 and are introduced directly to the Future Ideas community of business mentors. Winning ideas also receive promotion on the Future Ideas website and are archived within the ‘Ideas for the Future’ research journal. This year’s competition closed for applications on 31st March and saw over 1000 new users join the Future Ideas platform, winners will be announced on 22nd May.

Alongside academic competitions, Future Ideas offers its members the opportunity to work with large international organisations through solving real life business challenges that they submit to the Future Ideas website. Members are invited to provide solutions to these business challenges, giving them the opportunity to have their voice heard and potentially land their next job if their idea is chosen as a solution. This works much like the Agorize platform that we previously covered as one of our innovation insights.

“We have to believe in the power of young people and provide them with the tools to develop their ideas into something that may contribute to a better world. Future Ideas wants to be the place where people can connect based on the mutual interest of innovation and gain access to the support required to help them grow their university work into something truly great,” Aneliya told us.

The Future Ideas team are currently working to expand their offering outside of competitions and business challenges. They are developing an online space to provide users with access to self-development and learning tools, which they aim to make available later this year.