Lancaster University: Entrepreneurs of tomorrow battle it out in 100-Day Challenge

Teams of young entrepreneurs recently joined Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) online to compete in the 100-Day Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Sixteen teams from 12 schools across the country took part in the contest, organised by LUMS, which challenged contestants to come up with a business idea which addressed one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Ideas included a subscription box to teach children about sustainability, an app to encourage people to recycle by awarding them vouchers or lives within a linked mobile game, and a responsibly produced hairbrush made of plastic waste from hair salons.

Teams competed for two main prizes, one awarded by LUMS’ Department of Entrepreneurship and Strategy and one awarded by LUMS’ Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs).

The winners of the department prize were Innov8 from King Edward VI Fiveways school in Birmingham who wowed the judges with their idea for ensuring internet access for remote areas of Tanzania.

Reflecting on their experience, the team said: “This experience taught us valuable business planning skills and was a great way to improve teamwork from school and home, and to make connections with others who are experts in the area we were researching.”

Meanwhile the winners of the EIR prize, The Determinators from Rydal Penrhos School in North Wales, impressed with their plans to set up solar electrical generators at schools in Uganda.

Team coordinator Simeon Murphy-Thomas said: “This has been a huge victory for the school and for us as individuals. We thought we would utilise our links to Ugandan schools to try and enhance the educational opportunities of Ugandan children with minimum environmental impact and in an efficient and economically sustainable way.

“We are grateful to the lecturers who recognised the efforts we put into this as a team, while working remotely and now since back in school. We have found it to be a very valuable experience and a great learning opportunity.”

Bingbing Ge, from the Department of Entrepreneurship and Strategy, said: “This event shows not only the passion, but the potential of students to make a difference to the world. The students’ awareness, care, and entrepreneurial mindsets drove them to develop their projects to solve one or more of the UN Sustainability Goals in this 100-day Entrepreneurship Challenge. We were deeply impressed by the exceptionally high quality of presentations, ideas, and even some pilot studies. Huge congratulations to all participants.

“We (Department of Entrepreneurship and Strategy) are aware that a desire to solve the crises of the world isn’t on the priority list for every student. We do thrive, however, to nurture every student for whom such a desire is an inseparable aspect of their personality. We hope that through this challenge, we, combined with EiRs, provided such students with useful feedback to further develop these passions.”

Kevin Shaw, one of the EIR judges, said: “The contest was a delight, with an exceptionally high standard of entries, and a very high level of commitment from all the candidates. Their dedication to helping achieve the goals is an inspiration to us all, and gives good reason to be optimistic for a fairer and safer future for communities around the world.

“I was particularly impressed with their attention to detail, in terms of product development, financials, and infrastructure in developing countries. A difficult brief for students who are still at school, but one they addressed with gusto and determination. It was a pleasure to be involved, and I hope the competition returns next year with an even bigger entry!”

Fellow EIR judge Richard Baguley added: “The judges were greatly impressed by the very high quality of the submissions. We would like to congratulate all the teams taking part for their research, commitment, ideation and hard work. They all did a great job and it was extremely difficult to decide the winners. The competition is an important showcase for young enterprise and underlines the significance of entrepreneurship and innovation in tackling some of the major issues the world faces in the 21st Century.”

The winners of the Department and EIR Prizes have each been sent a trophy and the teams will also benefit from work experience opportunities with Lancaster University Management School, VIP tickets for LUMS’ Masterclass series events which are hosted by leading entrepreneurs, and a dedicated ‘Audience with…’ session for their school, providing students with unique access to an academic or entrepreneur in residence.