Have you ever spotted a problem that’s just waiting for a good idea to solve it? We all have good ideas, but not many of us do anything about it. It takes determination, hard work and courage to make good ideas a reality. These are qualities that the eleven graduates of the Good Ideas Academy have in spades. On Monday 19 June, their good ideas for tackling ten different social and environmental problems were unveiled. From the mental health of young children to local food sourcing, they’re all hoping to make the world a better place.

Our Good Ideas Academy is a social innovation programme funded by the Scottish Government, The Postcode Lottery, Creative Scotland and Awards for All. Now in its fifth year it has helped to launch over 60 new social enterprises. The graduation sees another ten projects pass through the programme and sounds the starting gun for applications to the Good Ideas Academy 2017-18.

Good Ideas Class 2017

This year’s graduates cover a range of different challenges, but all of them have a fascinating story behind them.


Sam Abrahams was a daredevil teen, running, climbing, jumping and pushing the limits, until one day that limit was almost pushed too far. After jumping from a pier into the North Sea, a bad landing saw Sam in a coma fighting for his life. He recovered, and he found his purpose. Whilst most of us were spending too much money in the bar at University, Sam was setting up a charity – First Aid Africa. He is all too aware of our one shot at this life and his charity is training lifesaving skills in parts of Africa where a hospital can be hours away. Now Sam with the help of the Good Ideas Academy, has started a new social enterprise, The Wilderness Training Company. They will be training paying customers, in essential wilderness survival techniques both in Scotland and Africa. The profits of that work will go back into lifesaving programmes in both Scotland and Africa.

Sam had this to say about the Good Ideas Academy:

“It is entirely possible that this kind of programme exists elsewhere in the world, but I have not heard of it. I think Scotland seems to have this attitude whereby people are less afraid to fail and because of that are able be creative, to be entrepreneurial but also give back to society.” Sam Abrahams – The Wilderness Training Company and Good Ideas Academy 2017 graduate.


Eve Hepburn suffered a terrible trauma when her boyfriend died in her arms at the age of only 19. It was a freak, unexpected heart attack in the middle of a conversation. It left Eve with a mental burden that she felt unable to talk about as mental health issues were still a taboo subject. Eve has travelled a long way since, and now, with support from the Good Ideas Academy, she is in the process of launching a new online magazine for young women – Fearless Femme. A safe, inspiring and kick-ass publication that empowers young women to overcome stress and other emotional challenges.


Christina Cran was admitted to hospital after months of ill health. She was hooked up to drips and machines and after several days was sent home with an armoury of insulin, needles, finger pricker and testing strips, to start a new life as a Type One diabetic. Christina’s son was only two and a half, but as time went on it became obvious that he had been deeply distressed by what had happened, asking months afterwards, “Was Mum going to be taken to hospital again?” and “Was she going to die?”. As Christina herself turned to mindfulness and meditation to cope with her own mental distress, she soon realised that her son needed just as much help. Finding no provision for young children, in her bid to help him, Wee Seeds was born. And with the Good Ideas Academy, Christina has begun the journey to develop the interactive tools to help plant the seeds of mindfulness and meditation in young pre-schoolers minds.

Other founders include; Emily Beardsmore of Exploring Participation; Felix Gilfedder of The Wrapping Paper Society; Jenny White of Shiatsu Connects; and Lily Asch of Real Talk.

The academy is the brainchild of our founder, Claire:

My dream was to create a dynamic and diverse community in my home city, with social enterprise at its heart. We set out to produce a programme of support for social innovation in Scotland. As part of this vision The Good Ideas Academy was born and now our participants tell us it makes all the difference between success and failure. 

The Good Ideas Academy has seen some notable successes pass through its programme including some multi-award winning projects; The Edinburgh Remakery, which has a shop and workshop on Leith Walk, and offers a variety of upcycling courses. The Edinburgh Tool Library, which offers membership for a mere £20 and access to all the DIY equipment you could need, as well as offering back to work skills training. Father’s Network Scotland, which enjoyed an incredible year of success last year, with its highly publicised campaign, Year of the Dad, promoting the importance a great dad can make.

This is an incredible free programme, spanning 8 months. Initially 25 candidates are selected who attend The Good Ideas Camp. This is two weekends of intense workshopping to really test and develop the initial propositions. The 10 most promising ideas will then be supported for a further 6 months, where they will receive practical advice, workshops, one-to-one mentoring and make valuable connections to get their business up and running.

The search is ongoing for the next big social innovators – Start here >>