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

Twenty-three-year-old James Tetlow, a Mechanical Engineering student from the University of Exeter, 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.

James has invented Zama Digital, a machine monitoring solution for the manufacturing industry, and will be pitching his innovation against nine other teams of student and graduate 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. The world is changing rapidly, and these skills are vital to tackle challenging global problems.


Zama Digital - A Machine Monitoring Solution Set to Transform the Manufacturing Industry

Zama Digital provides a machine monitoring solution for manufacturing businesses. The Zama Digital sensor module is retrofitted to production machinery of any age, make or model, and is used to monitor the utilisation of the machine. Using Zama Digital, various information, including cycle times, total uptime and downtime, is collected from the machines. This data is then displayed in real-time on Zama’s cloud-based platform, providing manufacturers with quick and easy access to information that will help to improve the efficiency and profitability of their operations.

It was during the industrial placement year of his university degree that James became inspired to create Zama Digital as he explains: “During my placement, I worked at a subcontract manufacturing company alongside the chairman of the business. We wanted to collect data from many different machines of varying types, ages, makes, and models to understand the current machine utilisation, and increase efficiency and productivity as you can’t improve what you don’t measure. However, there wasn’t a solution on the market that had the flexibility to collect data from a large range of different machines and share it on a cloud platform for analysis. With this in mind, Zama Digital was born.

The Engineers in Business competition is designed to inspire engineers to study business and innovation. James said, “It’s important to learn business innovation skills as it teaches you how to implement new products, services, processes, and ideas. When done successfully, these new innovations can have many positive impacts on a business, such as reducing costs and process times as well as increasing the efficiency and sustainability of the company.”

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, James will have six minutes to convince the judges, through his presentation and Q&A session, that he 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 positive impact of Zama Digital within the manufacturing sector.

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

James will be competing for an Engineers in Business Champion of Champions title against nine other teams from Aberystwyth University, University of Birmingham, University of Aberdeen, Imperial College London, Nottingham Trent University, 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 James said, “It is great to be in the final as it gives me the opportunity to share the work of Zama Digital and pitch for funding to help drive the business forward. It has also been invaluable to receive expert coaching from a Sainsbury Management Fellow to further develop my pitch and business.”

Important Links

Watch Zama Digital’s pitch video