Newsletter: Education and Young People

Hi guys! Some of you may know about us already but I thought this would be a chance for us to introduce ourselves. At Goodlab we are all about creating a place where good things grow together. We are an online and physical platform that promotes cross-sector collaboration to co-design innovative solutions to social and environmental problems.

We want the Southwest to be known as a place where sustainable social innovation can flourish. We are working with both universities in Bristol and local social enterprises in order to scale them up to face the challenges of the modern society. We provide information and support for academics, staff, current students and alumni from higher education institutes to work along side the third sector.

Connecting communities and initiatives to bring together drivers of change in the Southwest region in a meaningful manner is what goodlab is about.  We aim to provide resources that will effectively facilitate the sharing of knowledge, skills, resources and experience to create sustainable social innovation.

This newsletter is our way of letting you know what Goodlab are up to and about all the good stuff that’s happening. We will use interviews, articles, case-studies and much more to let you know what exciting and innovative projects are coming out of the Southwest.

80 by 18

80 by 18 is a great new Bristol initiative getting young people to make the most of this beautiful city. It’s a fun list 80 things to do in Bristol before you’re 18, with activties suitable for all tastes and ages.

It’s a set of prompts for the imagination, with activities ranging from city picnics and new food tasting experinces to a visit to the slidey rock and seeing the law in action!

The first partners to be involved in the project and who have supported its development so far are Lighting up Learning, ASDAN, the Cabot Institute, Windmill Hill City Farm, Watershed, MShed, Ablaze, UWE and MyFutureMyChoice.

Find out more by clicking here

New Enterprise Competition

The New Enterprise Competition (NEC) is the Research and Enterprise Development department at the University of Bristol’s flagship business idea challenge. The competition is open to students, staff, and recent graduates. Whilst there are different stages to the competition all you really need is an original idea for a self-sustaining business.

It’s open to both commercial and social enterprises, and includes everything from simple conceptual ideas through to businesses in their first year of trading. Each year the total prize pot is around £35,000, all kindly donated by their sponsors. This includes cash prizes, packages of legal support, and business acceleration services.

This year, three of the fantastic enterprises supported by GoodLab won awards. Congratulations to them all!


Autism App

Sarah Griffiths a Phd student based at The University of Bristol School of Experimental Psychology has been awarded an Exploratory Impact Award grant from the ESRC’s Impact Acceleration Account. The grant was awarded to facilitate the development of a tablet app for teaching emotion recognition to children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).

ASD is associated with difficulty recognising facial expressions. Facial expressions are already being taught to children with ASD in schools but the materials used are often simplistic and show intense emotional clues. However, recent work by Wong et al. (2012) has shown that children with ASD may have particular difficulty with less intense expressions. The proposed app will offer the opportunity to teach children how to recognise a range of high and low intensity expressions and for the tasks to be tailored to the ability and age of the child interacting with the app.

The project began with an conversation between App programmer Nigel Derrett and a teacher. In this conversation the need for a more flexible, representative  and engaging way to help children with ASD start to recognise emotional cues was outlined.  Nigel then approached academics at the University of Bristol with whom he had worked on previous projects with designing apps around aiding psychological disorders. Sarah was seen as the perfect candidate due to  her research into emotion recognition in ASD and links with local schools. Sarah then went on to approach Andrew Wray of Research and Enterprise Development (RED) at The University of Bristol who helped her apply for gain the Exploratory Impact Award grant.

With the grant behind her Sarah was now able to connect with Fosse Way, a school for special educational needs in Somerset. Fosse Way acts as an invaluable sounding board telling Sarah and Nigel what they need, what will work and what will not. Without their input the project would have real difficulty in delivering the impact that it intends. The teachers and TAs have valuable first hand experience of what it is like working with Autistic children and how to interact with them. By engaging with the end users Sarah and Nigel have been able to both create a useful app and also gauge how it could fit into the curriculum. Sarah is now at a point where she is beginning to work with a designer Danny Jenkins who works for a design company called Thirteen. Danny’s role will be to create an engaging face to the app that will make using it both an enjoyable and educational interaction.

If all goes to plan Sarah would like  to see the final version of the app being used by teachers in Fosse Way and in other schools around the country. There is also the possibility of making a version of the app that could be downloaded from the iTunes store so that people can use it at home.

This is a highly innovative project due to the nature of the way in which it is run, each partner bringing a different set of knowledge, resources, skills and experience to the table. This is interaction allows each partner to learn from one another at the same time as producing and end product that is not just innovative and engaging but fully accommodates the needs of the end user.

Balance Stationary

Balance Stationery is a social enterprise set up by University of Bristol graduate Jonathan Lewis and is based in Chipping Sodbury. It works to address educational inequality for underprivileged children. When schools and businesses source their stationery and office equipment from Balance a percentage of their contract is used to provide stationery and school supplies to a partnered school in the developing world.

One of the schools that Balance supports is the Tumaini Children’s Centre in Kiambu, Kenya.  Tumaini currently support over 600 children, living in extreme poverty because they are orphaned or living with one/ both parent(s) with social problems.  Balance also supports BLINC schools in Nicaragua. This is group of 8 preschools and primary schools  in Puerto Morazán, a deprived region in the north of the country.

As one of the winners the University of Bristol New Enterprise Competition in 2014 Balance were rewarded with £7000 and mentoring from Bryony Thomas the author of Watertight Marketing. This prize has allowed Lewis to create to brand new online store and given him the opportunity to create a watertight marketing plan.

Balance is a perfect example of an organisaton that uses a common demand to drive social change in a sustainable and innovative manner. There are a number of ways you can support Balance, you can buy your stationery and supplies from them at You can also donate to which is an independent charity working alongside Balance Stationery to support schools in developing countries.  If you would like to volunteer with Balance or share their story at an event contact Balance at

Applied Theatre Action Initiative

I recently chatted to Rebecca Tantony to find out a little more about Applied Theatre Action Initiative, a new CIC creating opportunities for young people to become changemakers through spoken word and theatre.

Hello, please tell me a little about yourself and your business.

My name is Rebecca Tantony and I am programmes director for an organisation called ATAI, which stands for Applied Theatre Action Initiative. We have been established as a CIC for two months so we’re very new but the organisation started last year when we ran a pilot project at the Bristol Old Vic.

What we do is we offer a platform for youth to engage with spoken word theatre as a means to explore societal topics which affect them and to then creatively come up with solutions to change the things that are affecting them. What makes us unique is that we find two different youth groups around the world and get them to collaborate; a project we ran last year was between group in Oakland in California and a group in Bristol.  The project we are running next will be between a group in Bristol and a group in Stockholm, Sweden. We communicate through digital media to collaboratively create a piece of theatre and spoken word and to find similarities and solutions.

At the end they perform their work to an audience of community members, stakeholders, and the general public who will then engage in a question and answer session. We then offer phase 2 of the project, providing work opportunities and volunteering for the young people to implement the solutions found during their creative processes. That’s a really important aspect to it.