In late October I had the honour of being a judge for the McShane Young Digital Disruptor Award, which celebrates the culmination of an inspirational summer's work by the Digital Disruptors team.

The new Digital Disruptors programme is all about supporting and nurturing our next generation of digital pioneers. Over the course of three months, a group of South London based teenagers unlocked invaluable direct access to some of the digital industry's smartest brains and businesses, gained insight into the many options digital provides in terms of career choice, and, most importantly, thought dynamically about the opportunities digital brings to our everyday lives. I was proud to play a very small part in that.

Digital Disruptors launched in memory of Nicky McShane, one of the industry's most exuberant and progressive digital marketers who sadly passed away at the end of last year. She was passionate about encouraging others to enjoy digital and to think disruptively about the opportunities it provides us all. Her enthusiasm and hunger to always look beyond the obvious were infectious and it is now the mission of the Digital Disruptors team to inspire our next generation to think and act the same.

The Judging

The challenge set to the teams was:

Consider how you'd use digital to 'bring together your community'. This might take the form of an event, an app, a website or even a messaging platform, but what we really want to see is how you'd explore the many opportunities that digital brings to make this happen.

My fellow judges and I were given the opportunity to hear these impressive teenagers pitch on stage in front of hundreds of members of the PI Live Conference in London. Each pitch was scored on the following criteria:

  1. Disruptiveness of the idea
  2. Passion amongst teammates
  3. Feasibility of the idea
  4. Quality of the research
  5. Level of creativity and innovative thinking

The Winner

While all the presentations, ranging from a music club for the local community to a campaign to combat period poverty, were impressive, one stood out. And this team was Look out: A safety app being developed by teens to stop crime and harassment in London. The confidence and stage presence of this presenting team would have been at home at any conference I have been to. The fact that they are still only 15 makes it mind boggling.

Their idea was well thought out and researched, despite facing difficulties in producing the idea, the team was able to persevere and help bring the community together through digital. What really pushed them across the winner's line? They even managed to put together a prototype for the presentation.

The Digital Disruptors, a programme in London launched to support and nurture young digital talent, consistently proves that digital innovation can take many forms and offers a variety of opportunity to bring communities together and make the world a better place. Look out is just one example of this.