Future Leaders and Innovators Gather for the Next Generation Summit


Maria Nguyen

What does it take to make a better future and a better world? For many people, the answer may be innovation.

Young innovators gathered at Corwin Pavilion on May 4 and 5 to attend the Next Generation Summit, a conference held for students to discover and cultivate entrepreneurial skills. It provided an opportunity for students to gain connections and build relations with each other, as well as to learn from professionals.

University of California, Santa Barbara student Kiyan Rajabi founded the Next Generation Summit last year. Max Bayuk, the co-chair of NGS, describes the forum as a unique and new opportunity to gain practical experience and connections outside of the typical realm of classes.

The agenda included keynote speakers from multiple fields–including technology, environmental science, and entrepreneurship–as well as workshops devoted to networking and learning real-world lessons.

David Fortson, CEO of LoaCom and a UCSB alum, started as the first keynote speaker on Saturday. He began by talking about the subject of business, which was a great lead-up toward the rest of the day. He said that “business is a tool to make a better future,” and described it as a “vehicle.”

Speakers from different fields and disciplines discussed their experience working as innovators while presenting their personal advice to the participants. Many of the professionals expanded on their role as founders of their own successful businesses. Saturday and Sunday’s speakers ranged from the founder of VIRES Aeronautics to Santa Barbara’s KEYT news anchor.

Workshops consisted of students and alumni from UCSB, San Diego State University, and other universities throughout California engaging in critical thinking and teamwork activities involving matters like marketing, ideation, defining business models, and collaborative thinking. One particular workshop, “Marketing from your Subconscious,” allowed participants to cooperate with one another and pitch ideas for businesses ranging from luxury swimsuits to a multi-leveled restaurant. Other workshops also contained lectures about disciplinary topics like environmentalism, technology, arts and entertainment, and more.

These lessons gained from the insightful keynote speakers and stimulating workshops are all pertinent to relevant real-world experiences.

“We wanted to create an atmosphere of students with a passion of creating something to benefit and start connections,” said  Isaac Linson, the assistant director for NGS.

A large aspect and benefit of the conference is the opportunity to network with like-minded young people. Nolan Rakow, the president of Entrepreneur Society at SDSU, was an attendee at last year’s NGS.

“It is important to surround myself with people who think about what’s bigger than them,” said Rakow. This reflects the outlook for many of the passionate individuals at this event, ranging from the participants, committee, workshop presenters, and speakers.

The event does not solely encompass students with direct business endeavors. Many attendees came from all different fields of study, such as philosophy, biopsychology, and environmental studies.

According to the NGS committee, there are plans to expand the summit to other schools and areas of California.

“In the future we plan to improve on it and make it more cross-disciplinary as well as a traveling event,” said Bayuk. While this years conference has since improved, the NGS committee hopes it will only grow from there.

For more information, visit their website at www.nextgenerationsummit.com.