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University of Exeter

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Elevate is a ground-breaking entrepreneurial competition supporting students to develop innovative ideas that benefit the UK’s economy and society and Elevate 2020 was the university's second year of participation in the EIB competition. This year’s competition aimed to support students enrolled on Engineering degree programmes to enable them to explore business innovation beyond project based learning. The competition provided valuable exposure for students to connect with the university’s Student Startups facility, Business School and business contacts.

Working closely with the Student Startups team, all contestants had the chance to fully immerse themselves in the world of business from day one with the Competition Launch. From there, students had the opportunity to attend business and entrepreneurship workshops, as well as receiving one-to-one business development meetings. These resources meant that regardless of background knowledge, engineering students from budding entrepreneurs to seasoned professionals were supported and encouraged through the whole competition and afterwards.
Winner: BioSmart - the multi-disciplinary team comprised Geography student Zain Shaikh pictured (middle) with Enactus Exeter representatives; Hannah Clift, Engineering student; Politics students Holly Huntrods, Hattie Needham and Paul Azrak; Economics students Izzy Zillig and Maja Miceli, and Business & Management student Mathilde Aubert. The team was awarded a £1,000 Engineers in Business prize.

The BioSmart project is supported by Enactus Exeter which works with remote rural communities, like Kadzinuni, Kenya, to make and sell sustainable biofuels. Their projects generate revenue from sales of biochar while making use of waste from crop harvests and reduces reliance on expensive and restricted energy sources.
Winner: PetEx - Engineering students, Rachael Quintin-Baxendale, Jonathan Bailey, John-Felipe Murphy and Jonathan Elliott; Biosciences students, Dragos Dumitrescu and Jessica Billington; Physics & Astronomy students Chloe Matthews and Ceilidh Welsh; Computer Science student, Adriano Matousek and Natural Sciences student Lydia Pike. The team was awarded a £750 Engineers in Business prize.

Research carried out by this group has enabled them to create innovative new technology from which they have developed a washing machine ‘smart filter’. This filter uses enzymes to tackle microplastic waste from laundry, preventing the plastic fibres shed by synthetic clothing during washing from entering our water systems.
Winner: Aksie – the team comprises Economics student Tom Trow; Liberal Arts student Sanmarie Grobler (both pictured) and Engineering student George Elysee. The team was awarded a £500 Engineers in Business prize.

The Aksie team is developing a student friendly online platform to prioritise environmentalism over industry standard booking fees when purchasing tickets and society memberships online.
Winner: Emotion – Computer Science student, Jordon Peters was awarded a £500 Engineers in Business prize.

This venture aims to put emotion at the forefront of the music listening experience. Users’ subjective emotive ratings of music tracks is linked with their listening libraries across existing platforms to create a new approach to the enjoyment of music.
Winner: FastClimb – Engineering student, George Seymour was awarded a £250 Engineers in Business prize.

This project hopes to develop new sensor technology for precise measurement in the competitive sport, speed climbing. A new and growing sport lined up for its debut in the next Olympic Games, FastClimb is looking to capitalise on its growing popularity as climbers look to increase their competitive edge.

Positive Feedback

This is the second year that the University of Exeter has run the Elevate competition, funded by Engineers in Business (EIB). Last year one of our contestants, Duncan Lyster, attended the 2019 final where he was runner-up with his sustainable surfboard start-up, LysterCraft. Duncan’s success, along with our new Engineering & Entrepreneurship programme, made this year’s competition even more popular with engineers across all disciplines and year groups.

The competition has improved the professional development of students involved, boosting their inter-disciplinary knowledge across numerous sectors of engineering, science and business.

The EIB prize fund that fuels the Elevate competition has provided last year’s contestants with the means to further their business development, with some using the funding to develop prototypes, marketing and beta trials. This year’s winners have detailed their plans for the funding, which includes replacing tooling, launching a beta service and funding iterative product development.

This sort of competition and funding provides students with the self-motivation and ‘real-world’ experience needed at university level, and I’m proud to see the students at the University of Exeter are creating and developing businesses that have the potential to excel after their studies.

Ceri Howell, Associate Lecturer Engineering with Entrepreneurship