Students put entrepreneurship skills to the test

During Nottingham Trent University's Global Entrepreneurship Week, students engaged in the dynamic Start-up Marathon hosted by the Centre for Business and Industry Transformation (CBIT) at Nottingham Business School.

This event challenged 20 students from diverse courses, including Business, Mechanical Engineering, and Physics, to conceptualise startup ideas, craft a prototype, and present their product within a span of just six hours.

The students formed four teams, focusing on themes like sustainability, artificial intelligence, security, and art and culture. Each group was tasked with identifying a high-impact yet low-cost solution to a specific problem within their chosen theme. The process involved creating a lean canvas business overview and a basic prototype of their product.

The panel for the final presentations included Professor Xiao Ma, CBIT Director; Georgi Iliev, head of the Venture Builder at CBIT; and Will Chew, senior enterprise officer at NTU’s Dryden Enterprise Centre. The winning team, rewarded with a cash prize, presented ‘The Social Line’, a modern social networking platform aimed at helping students find friends with similar interests. Their concept, stemming from a personal experience, was notable for establishing an emotional connection with the audience.

Other inventive ideas included a sustainable building cooling system, a smart helmet for micro-mobility riders equipped with AI for increased safety, and a new market strategy for access control products, developed in collaboration with Acatek, an IoT workforce and security management company.

Mohamed Abbas from CBIT reflected on the event: “We wanted the students to step into the shoes of a startup founder and experience the challenges and rewards of developing a prototype for your business idea in a short period of time rather than planning for too long, the startup experience is mainly about building products or service, measure the result with your customers, and learn from this to improve your offering."

The students expressed the value of this experience. Hanna Kuchanska, MSc Finance student and member of the winning team, found the event enlightening for understanding various life aspects. Rakshith Bangalore Kumaraswamy, a BSc Mechanical Engineering student, described the marathon as an eye-opener in idea generation and pitching. Ollie Hamilton, studying BSc Business Management and Marketing, emphasised the effectiveness of the event in overcoming initial entrepreneurial hurdles.

Complementing the marathon, CBIT also hosted the Tech X Business: Building Ventures with the latest AI Innovations Meetup. This event, attended by businesses, startups, students, and NTU staff, explored AI's role in startup life, particularly in product design and development. The expert panel featured Georgi Iliev, Yash Sonawane from Dock-y, and Professor Amin Al-Habaibeh from NTU.