Next Generation Summit: A Conference for Young Innovators

What do UCSB students do during spring quarter when they’re not studying, working, or soaking up the weekend sun in Isla Vista?

Believe it or not, many passionate students have been gathering to discuss how their generation can make a positive difference in the world they’ll soon be transitioning into.

Over the weekend of May 4th, over 90 students came together at UCSB’s Corwin Pavilion for the 2nd annual Next Generation Summit (NGS), a two-day “Young Innovators Conference.” The event featured keynote presentations from accomplished innovators, break-out workshops with current students and young change-makers, a plethora of opportunities to network and share ideas with each other, and an acoustic jam session by local band The Ole’s.

Around 75 UCSB students were joined by over 15 from San Diego State’s Entrepreneur Society for a weekend filled with big ideas, inspirational stories, and talk about what the future holds.

NGS Alumni Advisor Aladrian ‘Dro’ Goods’ Facebook post about her weekend at NGS

NGS Alumni Advisor Aladrian ‘Dro’ Goods’ Facebook post about her weekend at NGS

Next Generation Summit was born out of a UCSB student’s vision to unite like-minded students from across UCSB and other California schools to network and discuss how they can shape the future for the better. When he couldn’t find anything of the sort, Kiyan Rajabi (UCSB Class of 2013), then Co-President of UCSB’s Entrepreneur’s Association, decided to take it into his own hands to create something new.

With the help of a handful of other UCSB students, many from UCSB’s Technology Management Program, NGS first came to life on May 4 and 5, 2013 and saw the convergence of dozens of students from UCSB, Cal Poly, San Diego State University, Chapman University, San Jose State University, and other California schools.

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With its roots in the Technology Management Program, it was no surprise that technology emerged as the main theme of last year’s NGS conference. As the scope of the conference broadened, eco-entrepreneurship became a new focus for this year’s gathering.

This year’s conference was kicked off by an energizing keynote talk from LoaTree’s own Dave Fortson. In the talk, titled ‘Business for a Better World,’ Fortson discussed how business can be used as a vehicle for environmental change. With mention of 1% for the Planet and its member companies, B-corporations, and LoaTree’s own business ecosystem, Fortson demonstrated how a double-bottom line is not only possible, but increasingly practical in today’s consumer-conscious world.

Fortson explaining the LOA Ecosystem

Fortson explaining the LOA Ecosystem

And talk of business and the environmental didn’t stop there. The following keynote, ‘The Role of Disruptive Innovators,” presented by Dr. Andrea Neal of Blue Ocean Sciences, discussed how scientists around the world are using new technologies to capture data about the ocean as well as how this data can be monetized and applied to reverse the trend of our ocean’s declining health.

Day two included Dr. James Rogers’ “The Art of the Start,” another presentation about the crossroads between entrepreneurship, science, and the environment. Rogers used the story of his young company, aPeel Sciences, to show how an idea can evolve into a product and a solution for real-world problems.

These eco-entrepreneurship talks were complemented by Zachary Hargreaves’ “Manned vs Unmanned: Making the World More Connected,” about drone technology and its role in our future and Jose Huitron’s “The State of Innovation,” a talk about entrepreneurship, mentorship, fundraising, and how to build something epic.

Other notable presentations included a lunch-time talk from KEYT NewsChannel 3’s morning anchor Shirin Rajae who provided insight into the changing landscape of the news industry and technology’s effect on how news stories are created and communicated.

Rajae providing insight into the news industry

Rajae providing insight into the news industry

The break-out workshops included fan favorites like Thomas Kuo’s “Ideating your Business Model,” Jordan Taylor’s “Marketing from your Subsconscious,” and Joe Haugh’s “The Art of Mastery.”

The NGS 2014 Planning Committee has a vision to turn the conference into an annually recurring event at UCSB and other college campuses. More broadly, they aim to build a community of mindful, passionate students and mentors who work together to create original solutions to a variety of contemporary problems the next generation will face.

For more information, visit Next Generation Summit’s website at nextgenerationsummit.com

By Max Bayuk, LoaTree

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