Engineers in Business Fellowship supports universities and FE colleges that run enterprise competitions which embrace engineering students, by providing each university with a £3,000 prize fund to reward imaginative solutions to real-world problems.
The Engineers in Business Prize Fund was piloted at the University of Nottingham and then extended to the University of Bristol, Kingston University and City, University of London with excellent results.
The funding enabled these universities to increase the number of engineering students participating in their business innovation competitions.
These early successes led to an increase in funding to £700,000 to be awarded over three years.
Twenty-three universities have so far received a £3,000 prize fund and EIBF is now looking to award a further £75,000 to 25 more universities and FE colleges during 2019.
The EIB Prize Fund has already generated fascinating innovations, for example:
Lancaster University – The ‘Quench Spike Free Cup’
The top team in Lancaster University’s competition created the ‘Quench Spike Free Cup’ which is designed to alert the owner if their drink has been spiked or tampered with. The plastic cup uses coloured detection strips within plastic cups to warn of this.
The team received £1,750 of the prize fund and will be assigned a mentor from Engineers in Business Fellowship to support them as they move forward to develop the product and test prototypes. The remaining prize money went to the second and third prize winners.
Lancaster University’s Dr Allan Rennie, Senior Engineering Lecturer, who applied for the funding for the Second Year Engineering Module: The Business Development Project, which he ran for 133 students said:
“Undergraduate Engineering students naturally shy away from business and management type modules, preferring the more numerate and technical subjects, however, this particular module, which embeds entrepreneurship and innovation within the curriculum, has gained in popularity in recent years.”
Daniel Williamson, Senior Engineering Lecturer at Lancaster University praised the prize fund saying:
“The investment prizes gave the module a competitive edge, encouraging greater group engagement and setting up a business a more appealing route for engineers who hadn’t even considered it. Receiving the money enables our group to gain hands-on experience during the exploration of starting up a business, and an easier path to business success.”
City, University of London – E-Mobility Bike
First prize went to a hybrid sharing bicycle system, called E-Mobility Bike, which is aimed at hotels and city residential communities. The lightweight bicycle is half manual and half electric. It aims to make city travel easier, healthier and more accessible. Unicorn Electrics, the team behind it, has already secured pilot locations to trial the system and have used the Engineers in Business cash prize to perfect their product.
The incentive of the Engineers in Business Prize Fund has enabled City, University of London to increase the level of participation by engineers in its competition by 114%.
Alex Elkins, Head of Entrepreneurship at the university said:
“The launch of our EIB competition galvanised an impressive jump in both the quality and number of business ideas entered by our engineering students. The EIB support has been instrumental in launching this dedicated award within our broader innovation competition. We are very happy to have had the opportunity to establish this partnership and we are eager to see who will win this year!”
Ludovico Tessari, one of the four team members of Unicorn Electrics said:
“The support and mentoring offered is priceless, and the visibility and validation that comes as part of the competition’s visibility are aiding the successful acquisition of clients and fast company growth considerably. Awards and programmes such as this are an essential platform for young engineering and entrepreneurial talent.”
Kate Beresford, Head of Membership and Operation, Enterprise Educators UK said:
“Our member universities find enterprise competitions to be a really effective way to inspire students, graduate and postgraduates to consider enterprise and entrepreneurship. But funding can be a massive challenge, so we welcome the Engineers in Business Prize Fund and look forward to seeing a wealth of innovative engineering solutions come forward.”