Students put their business acumen to the test for Thinkubator Challenge

Hundreds of staff and students from Nottingham Business School (NBS), at Nottingham Trent University, put their heads together to solve 30 real-life business challenges at this year’s Thinkubator Challenge.

Hundreds of staff and students from Nottingham Business School (NBS) put their heads together to solve 30 real-life business challenges at this year’s Thinkubator Challenge®.

Now in its fourth year, the event saw business undergraduates and postgraduates, research students, Alumni Fellows and academics, split into thinking hubs to come up with solutions for real business challenges in just three hours.

The businesses which took part came from a variety of sectors, including charity, fashion, photography, health and insurance.

To signify the start of the day a gong was hit by the president of Nottingham Trent University Students’ Union, Timi Oluwasanmi.

During the Challenge the groups were guided and supported by academic experts and NBS Alumni Fellows.

Andrea Lamb, an Alumni Fellow, said: “Our role was to assist academics and to offer guidance and support for the students. With our knowledge acquired through working in industry and commerce we can bring a little bit extra to the group and bring our own experience to help solve the challenge.”

While the students worked in their hubs, challenge submitters where invited to attend business master classes in digital marketing, building resilience for Small and Medium Enterprises and growth planning.

Opportunities like this are useful to help us focus on what we need to do and there have been some really good ideas so far.

Rachael Hobbs, director of Bridge & Stitch

Rachael Hobbs, director of Bridge & Stitch, a project management company for clothing brands, came to Thinkubator for help in expanding the design side of her business.

Rachael said: “We have already worked with a lot of students to support us through our growth, which has been incredibly helpful because they come up with new ideas which we may not have thought of. Opportunities like this are useful to help us focus on what we need to do, and there have been some really good ideas so far.”

To solve Rachael’s problem the students came up with several ideas, including putting a Union Jack flag on the website to make the message clear that her products are made in Britain. They also advised her to be more consistent with her website and to utilise social media.

School For Parents, a Sneinton-based charity which provides vital support for disabled children and their families, were at Thinkubator seeking ideas to raise £300,000 to buy a building. They currently rent space from a private school.

Tony Bates, chairman of School For Parents, said: “After being contacted by the Thinkubator team, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to see what different recommendations the students could come up with to raise the money.”

Tony said the team came up with ideas which he may not have thought of before, including working with the students at the university on a voluntary basis, boosting his social media platforms, partnering with building firms and crowd funding.

Nottingham business, Retail Assist, which provides IT services and solutions to retail companies, also submitted a challenge.

Alan Morris, chairman, said: “We wanted to get a different perspective on the challenge we're facing. We work closely with retail businesses but these people (the students) are our customers and being part of Thinkubator means that we get to hear first-hand from them what they want.”

Retail Assist’s challenge was to find out how retailers can engage better with their customers, in order to sell them more.
The students came up with solutions including a reward programme for customers who provide honest product reviews, in-store mapping, and a future fitting room which knows what items the customer has taken in and then recommends other products.

Tara Gill, who is studying BA (Hons) Business Management and Accounting and Finance, said: “Listening to real challenges that the businesses face is beneficial to us because we learn about it in the classroom but now we have the opportunity to do it in real life.”

MSc Finance student, Jiayue Yao, said: “Thinkubator is a good chance for me to meet different people who study other subjects. It means we can sit together and share our ideas to help the companies with things they may not have thought about before.”

Dean of Nottingham Business School, Professor Baback Yazdani, said: “Holding the Thinkubator Challenge means that our students become more employable, our staff are better informed of the real business problems of today and then the classroom becomes far more interesting.”

Thinkubator is the only event of its kind in Europe and since its launch in 2013 has helped to solve more than 140 problems put forward by businesses.

Deputy Dean of Nottingham Business School, Melanie Currie, added: “Thinkubator is one of the ways in which the business school leads the way in experiential and personalised business learning. It enables us to build long-lasting relationships with the companies who can benefit from working with us.”

In October 40 students went to the Houses of Parliament to run a political version of Thinkubator, solving problems set for them by three local MPs on industrial strategy, transport, and social mobility. The students presented their solutions to a VIP audience in the Churchill Room of the House of Commons.

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Helen Breese, Media Relations Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8751, or via email.

    Nottingham Trent University's five-year strategic plan Creating the University of the Future has five main ambitions: Creating Opportunity, Valuing Ideas, Enriching Society, Connecting Globally, and Empowering People

    The Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education was awarded to Nottingham Trent University in November 2015. It is the highest national honour for a UK university and recognises the institution's world-class research. Pioneering projects to improve weapons and explosives detection in luggage, enable safer production of powdered infant formula, and combat food fraud, led to the prestigious award.

Students put their business acumen to the test for Thinkubator Challenge

Published on 21 November 2016
  • Category: Business; Press office; Nottingham Business School

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