Solving business challenges with the collective wisdom of the Thinkubator

Organisations of all sizes seeking new and innovative ideas to support growth can benefit from the collective wisdom of Nottingham Business School (NBS) students and researchers at this year’s Thinkubator Challenge®.

Students at a table taking part in Thinkubator
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Students are split into 'thinking hubs' to complete the challenges

Organisations of all sizes seeking new and innovative ideas to support growth can benefit from the collective wisdom of Nottingham Business School (NBS) students and researchers at this year’s Thinkubator Challenge®.

On Wednesday 14 November, NBS will dedicate its full resource to solving 30 real challenges submitted by a variety of businesses and not-for-profit organisations. The Thinkubator website is now open for businesses to submit their challenges.

Now in its sixth year, Thinkubator sees a mixture of postgraduates and final year undergraduate students split into ‘thinking hubs’ to focus on solving one challenge each.

The students are supported by expert academics, business management researchers and NBS Alumni Fellows.

Businesses present their challenge to a dedicated hub and students have three hours to research, analyse and evaluate the problem.

While the groups are working, businesses are invited to attend a series of masterclasses around this year’s theme of 'enhancing productivity' before returning to the hub for a summary presentation.

Thinkubator is the only event of its kind in Europe and since its launch in 2013, students have addressed more than 200 challenges submitted by businesses from across the UK.

Last year, 90% of the challenges were submitted by small and medium-sized enterprises, many of which were entrepreneurs and micro businesses.  Three large organisations with turnovers of more than £10m also took part.

The businesses came from a variety of industry sectors including charities, financial services, agriculture, construction, education and retail. Their challenges ranged from new routes to market and recruitment, to customer loyalty and pricing strategy.

Neil MacLaren, funding manager at YMCA, said: “We took part in the Thinkubator event last year to look for new opportunities to promote and fund raise for our new Community & Activity Village in Newark. From a very short brief to the students in the morning, we were then impressed by a couple of presentations that afternoon where they had explored not just fundraising opportunities but had gained a full understanding of the centre and its potential benefits to residents in terms of health, social mobility, and training and employment prospects.

“We have used this learning to further inform our fundraising for the project and are indebted to the NBS students for their inspiration and creativity.”

MBA student, Timi Oluwasanmi, who worked on a challenge last year, said: “It’s a great opportunity to put the theory we’ve learnt into practice. It’s like you take ownership of a business and really care about it because you want to see it grow.”

Professor Baback Yazdani, dean of Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University, said: “At NBS collaboration between our students and the business world is very important. Thinkubator gives both parties the chance to benefit from their respective knowledge and experience.

“Those who come to us for advice receive fresh ideas and advice which can have a significant impact on their bottom line. For our students, this is part of the personalised experience we offer them. They work on real-life situations which match their interests and they learn from the problems the business community is currently facing.”

Although Thinkubator is a one-day event, relationships often thrive afterwards. In some cases, students have visited the organisation they worked with to follow-up with additional work and consultancy.

For further information or to submit a challenge, visit the Thinkubator website. Businesses are required to send a representative to the event.

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