On Monday 23rd June, we brought together 18 Finalist teams to London, from across the length and breadth of the UK – with one school travelling a massive 660 miles from Wick in Caithness to join us!
The Apps for Good Awards are the highlight in our calendar and are the culmination of months of hard work by the staff team, sponsors, supporters, teachers and most importantly our students. This year we were keen to make sure that the Apps for Good Awards 2014 were the biggest yet!
All our Finalist teams were given the opportunity to meet with some of the most innovative start-ups within Tech City. Businesses such as Airbnb, Mint Digital, Moo and others gave our Finalists some great last minute coaching ahead of their presentations to the Dragons.
The Finalist teams joined us at the Barbican Centre where they were split into their thematic categories. At this point all our student teams were both nervous and excited and all set to go face to face with some of the leading business and industry experts in our judging sessions. One of the best parts of the day is watching students being so nervous at the start of the day, then growing in confidence hour by hour to accomplish things by the end that they never thought possible.
We were very fortunate to have such a diverse range of Dragons; including Baroness Martha Lane-Fox, Tech City CEO Gerard Grech , Financial Times CIO Christina Scott and Yahoo! Vice President Nick Hugh. All our judges brought an immense amount of experience and knowledge within their specific fields.
Despite some of our Finalists being as young as 10 years old, this did not stop our students from demonstrating the confidence and passion they had for their designs. The level of preparation undertaken by our teams was truly impressive with all Finalists having developed a solid understanding of how to effectively market their product. Questions around user interfaces did not faze Finalists at all, with some teams even having created their own working prototypes. Even for those apps which were just at a design stage, students were able to set out a clear vision of how they foresaw their product going forward.
After the judging was complete all of our Dragons reported how impressed and blown away they were with the high standard of competition entries.
After a quick bite to eat, teams headed to a special Marketplace we had set up to allow them to demonstrate their app designs to our guests and a have an opportunity to network. We provided all Finalist teams with an individual app board, stickers and catalogues – students used these marketing tools to get the all-important last minute votes in our People’s Choice Award poll.
Guests, supporters and sponsors spoke of the intellect, passion and eloquence shown by all the teams. The Marketplace was one of the many highlights of the day with the room buzzing with enthusiasm – the young people there weren’t just students, they had become real-life entrepreneurs and their confidence was growing in abundance.
At 7:30pm the stage was set and the room was packed with eager students and teachers as well as guests and presenters. Apps for Good Chairman Charles Leadbetter and Managing Director Debbie Forster welcomed the audience and provided some inspirational words to kick-start proceedings.
“There are young people in here that could start their own successful business in months – congratulations to each and every one of you” said Charles.
The Awards saw our six category winners announced by our sponsors: Thomson Reuters, Barclaycard, TalkTalk and Samsung.
At Apps for Good, we know it is not enough to have a great idea; we aim for our students to be able to make that idea a reality, to become digital makers. We are pleased to see how our students’ ability to code and to build their own apps has grown year on year. To recognise this and in recognition of the new opportunities that the new computing curriculum in England represents, we have introduced our two new Coding Ninja Prizes, recognising those students who show particular ability and flair in coding.The evening also saw the winner of our first national People’s Choice Award revealed. For over a week teams had been vying for votes from the public and used a variety of creative ways to drum up support. Our Apps for Good Twitter stream was filled with tweets by the teams promoting their app – resulting in some retweets from both Will.iam and Stephen Fry and a grand total of over 14,000 votes!
For the full list of the winning teams, click here.
To round off a spectacular day we also paid tribute to some very special people, without whom Apps for Good simply wouldn’t work. We celebrated our Expert, Teacher and School of the Year who have all worked tirelessly and share our mission to change education forever.
Although only seven apps could be taken forward to market, all of our Finalist teams did an amazing job to get to the Awards – out of 17,000 students who took part in the Apps for Good course over the last year; these were the young people who demonstrated real excellence and entrepreneurial flair.
Our winning teams reflect a change in perceptions over the gender balance in the tech industry. In total girls made up over 40% of our winning students – in comparison to only 17% of women working in the wider tech industry. There is still much to be done, but we are proud of the progress we are making at Apps for Good.
For our winning teams, their app’s journey to market has already begun! The morning after the Awards the teams attended our Winners’ Workshop at Skills Matter where they met their dev teams and started to plan their next steps ahead of the launch in January 2015.
Over the next seven months the teams will work alongside development agencies to get their apps fully developed and ready to launch.
This year’s Apps for Good Awards simply wouldn’t have been the success they were without the generosity, commitment and enthusiasm of our partners and sponsors who share our drive to create a future generation of problem solvers and makers.
A big thank you also goes to our experts who were involved in shortlisting, mentoring and judging our Finalist teams. Their industry experience and knowledge was invaluable throughout the entire Awards process.
Most of all it’s the continued dedication from our Education Partners in schools and colleges across the country who teach our course. The pride all our Finalists showed in their work is a credit to the encouragement and support given to them by teaching staff.
Apps for Good Awards 2014 – media coverage
Check out some of the great coverage we have received: