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Engineering Student from Nottingham Trent University Makes it to the Final of the Engineers in Business Innovation Competition

Forty-six-year-old Claire Mann, a Data Science student from Nottingham Trent University, has secured a place in the final of the Engineers in Business Champion of Champions innovation competition, which will be hosted by TV presenter Rob Bell at the Royal Academy of Engineering on 22 October 2021.

Claire has founded ChangeXtra, an online platform and health tracking app that offers support for women in peri- and full menopause and will be pitching her innovation against nine other teams of student innovators in the national final. A total sum of £15,000 is up for grabs, providing vital seed money to help the winners develop their innovation. The winners will also receive mentoring from business leaders who are members of the Sainsbury Management Fellows network, plus CV packages from Purple CV and entrepreneurial books from Cambridge University Press.

The competition is sponsored by the registered charity, Engineers in Business Fellowship which champions business education for engineers and supports universities by giving them grants to award prizes to students who develop ground-breaking ideas. The grants enable universities to inspire more engineering and technology students and post-graduates to participate in innovation and entrepreneurship, skills that they take into their careers.  


ChangeXtra - Community, Conversation and Care for Women in Peri- and Full Menopause

ChangeXtra is a multifaceted online platform that encourages women to talk menopause. It offers an online community to share experiences, appointments with a menopause mentor, and a health tracking app to support women with self-care. ChangeXtra’s forum is designed to ‘welcome’ women to the menopause. The group is only accessible to members, is moderated, and posts can be made anonymously. Support can then be offered from the whole community.

Their menopause mentor appointments provide an opportunity for users to have someone to talk to who has been through what they are experiencing. The ChangeXtra app allows users to monitor their changing health, mood, lifestyle and relationships, providing a visual overview of their personal health experience plus support for self-care and action planning. 

All the features available via ChangeXtra were inspired by Claire’s own experience of feeling unsupported and underserved by the health community during the perimenopause as she explains: “I used an app, diary and my friends to make it through perimenopause and based my innovation on what worked for me. My innovation will enable conversation about the menopause and will mean that in the future women are supported by a community with access to the knowledge they need to self-care during this time of their lives.

The Engineers in Business competition is designed to inspire engineers to study business and innovation. Claire said, “It’s vital that we give student and graduate engineers business skills in order for them to make the maximum impact with their new knowledge and skills, and so that any new developments, inventions and innovations can be located in a useful context. The value of mentoring – being willing to listen and learn, and able to run your ideas past someone who can give you an expert, external opinion – also shouldn’t be underestimated. I would not have made it to the final without the support of my mentors helping me shape and frame my ideas for the business plan so far.”

The Awards Presentation Ceremony – 22 October 2021

The live online dragons’ den style competition will be compered by TV presenter, Rob Bell. Competing against nine other teams, Claire will have six minutes to convince the judges, through her presentation and Q&A session, that she should be crowned a Champion of Champions and take home a cash prize of between £1,500 and £8,500 depending on the award or awards received! Amongst other criteria, the judges will be assessing the impact of ChangeXtra on women during this crucial transition.

The members of the judging panel are:

  • Dr Andy Phillipps, Entrepreneur and early-stage tech investor and venture capitalist
  • Ana Avaliani, Director of Enterprise and Sustainable Development, Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Dr Jeroen Bergmann, Associate Professor of Engineering Science, University of Oxford
  • Serge Taborin, Government Digital Transformation, Amazon Web Services

Claire will be competing for an Engineers in Business Champion of Champions title against nine other teams from Aberystwyth University, University of Birmingham, University of Exeter, University of Aberdeen, Imperial College London, University of Nottingham, University of Portsmouth, University of Sheffield, and the University of York.

Commenting on the importance of reaching the Engineers in Business Champion of Champions Final Claire said, “I feel honoured to be recognised as a finalist, especially considering I have only just retrained in this field. I feel particularly honoured with this recognition as a female in STEM. I think this topic is important and I am proud that Engineers in Business Fellowship is not afraid to contribute to the conversation about making the menopause experience better!”

Claire participated in her university's business innovation competition through Ingenuity Impact and won her first Engineers in Business prize in this programme. The Ingenuity Programme began in 2016 as a business plan competition for the student and graduate population of the Haydn Green Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (HGI) and the wider University of Nottingham. In 2019, it expanded into the wider university community, working externally across the Midlands, Malaysia and China, and were joined by the first university partner, the University of Warwick. Today, the Ingenuity Programme works with 30 university partners across the UK and focuses solely on creating businesses with impact. It has supported some fantastic purpose-driven individuals and start-ups over the last five years and you can find out more about the alumni here. Ingenuity is committed to creating diverse networks across the UK, bringing expertise from industry and academia together with lived experience from local communities, in order to find solutions that deliver real change.

Important Links

Watch ChangeXtra’s pitch video