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The Enterprise Challenge: Addressing the demands and opportunities posed by an ageing population

The role of Rise Up, Newcastle Careers Service, is to support students in enhancing enterprise skills and developing business ideas. It forms a key institutional driver across Newcastle University. This is delivered through guidance, training, guest-speaker events and curriculum-based teaching interventions. As part of this, we co-deliver Enterprise Challenges with schools across different faculties. These are fast-faced, intensive learning activities, where student teams create solutions to solve real-life problems set by an external organisation, which they will present to a panel. These vary in theme depending on the interests of the co-organising schools.

"Voice North were really key in getting this off the ground"

The Ageing and Nutrition Enterprise Challenge took place on Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd March at The Core, Newcastle. It involved 33 students across the schools of biomedicine, medicine, dentistry, chemistry and mechanical engineering. Multi-disciplinary student teams were tasked with creating a nutrition-related solution to address the demands and opportunities for health care services raised by an ageing population.

Voice North were really key in getting this off the ground. Members contributed to a focus group that help the participating schools decide on key areas related to ageing the challenge should focus on. There were also Voice North staff members who acted as mentors to support the development of the students’ ideas, as well as judges for the panels who chose the winning finalists.

"...an increased capacity to understand and articulate issues related to ageing"

Day 1 saw the students allocated to their teams, set the challenge brief, undertake market considerations and generate solutions through supported idea generation. The teams also took part in a speed-dating activity, which enabled them to discuss their ideas with 8 experts across Ageing, Nutrition and business development. The day concluded with advice on pitching and presentation skills.

On Day 2 students finalised their idea, practised their pitches and presented to a panel of judges, again comprising experts across the university’s internal and external communities. After a very close vote (1 vote difference!), the winning team was: Food 180 – a social-media platform to support low socio-economic communities share nutritional recipes and encourage healthy living, incorporating local produce and businesses.

Feedback from the students has been extremely positive. The majority stated an increased capacity to understand and articulate issues related to ageing, in addition to experience in creative idea development, team-working and pitching skills. Furthermore, we have had an amazing outcome – the winning team are interested in taking the idea further and setting it up as a business! We met with them a few days after the challenge to discuss their next steps and are looking forward to watching their business take flight.

Alecia Dunn
Entrepreneurial Development Officer
Careers Service, Newcastle University

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