Live project enhances students’ employability skills
Students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have put their entrepreneurial skills to the test in a live challenge aimed at enhancing graduate enterprise and boosting employability.
The Big Idea Challenge tasked 25 students from a variety of disciplines to respond to a real life brief set by Liverpool-based St Vincent’s School for the Blind, in collaboration with the University and global accountancy firm KPMG.
Participants were asked to contribute a winning idea to the St Vincent “sightbox”, a range of inclusion and support products and technologies, which will allow visually impaired children access to sport, education and training.
The students, whose fields of study ranged from cybercrime to social work, pitched their business proposals to a panel of expert judges and developed entrepreneurial skills in problem solving, team work, planning, communication and presentation.
Ideas included mobile apps, smoothie drinks and community events, and students used UCLan’s specialist facilities, such as 3D printing and vacuum formers, to bring their concepts to life.
I can’t find the words to say how pleased I am to be given this opportunity as it’s an organisation I’ve been interested in for some time. I am so glad that I decided to take part in this event.
Team Fossil, made up of archaeology students Chloe Scott and Arnold Khelifi, acting student Cameron Jones and economics student Humeira Sheriwala, was named overall winning team. Their idea was to re-create Roman Britain in the classroom using audio sounds and narrative explanations to bring history for life.
Team member Cameron Jones said: “Our idea was to create an audio experience for all children to immerse them in the history of Roman Britain with the help of a few additional props. Having a team made up of students from such different disciplines was really helpful as we all brought different ideas to the table and bounced off each other.”
In addition, the student who showed the most entrepreneurial flair on a personal level was awarded a Most Outstanding Individual prize. The accolade went to final year international business student, 24-year-old Curtis Jones, who received a placement at KPMG.
Curtis said: “I can’t find the words to say how pleased I am to be given this opportunity as it’s an organisation I’ve been interested in for some time. I am so glad that I decided to take part in this event which has proved to be insightful and very worthwhile.”
Jake Patterson, Managing Director of Juvo Designs which works with St Vincent’s School to support the integration of technology to enhance the lives of people with a sensory impairment, represented the school at the event.
He commented: “Today we’ve seen a wide range of dynamic ideas that stuck well to the briefs the students were given. All of the students showed a lot of passion and it just shows how young people can think creatively to solve real-world problems and deliver solutions.”
Talking about the winning team, Fossil, Jake added: “This team came up with an innovative idea that will really engage the children it is aimed at. It’s imaginative and well thought out; congratulations to a very worthy winning team.”
The effort and thinking the students displayed was very impressive, the presentations were also professional and the students remained calm throughout.
Siddiq Musa, partner at KPMG, said: “The effort and thinking the students displayed was very impressive, the presentations were also professional and the students remained calm throughout. The experience will be valuable to them both in their education and beyond, and I’m sure St Vincent’s will also benefit and some of their ideas can be brought to life.”
UCLan’s Russell Hogarth, Honorary Fellow, Community Ambassador, Social Entrepreneur in Residence at Northern Lights, added: “The quality of the presentation from the students was outstanding. It’s always refreshing to see young entrepreneurial minds at work and to witness the enthusiasm expressed by all the students.
“Each of the ventures merited awards in their own right and for me there were no winners or losers on the day, such was the quality of each presentation.”
The Big Idea Challenge offers networking opportunities for students and graduates to speak directly with social entrepreneurs, technology innovators, corporate finance specialists and careers experts, as well as the 40+ business tenants of the UCLan Business Incubation Area.