University of Southampton

University Logo  

At the University of Southampton, the Student Enterprise Team (based in the Careers and Employability Service), Future Worlds (the on-campus start-up accelerator) and the University’s Social Impact Lab have come together to offer the SEED Start-Up Funding Competition. The competition is exclusive to University of Southampton students and supports them in the creation and development of early-stage businesses or social enterprises through the awarding of funding prizes. Students must submit business plans and video pitches before being shortlisted to pitch in front of a panel of judges. The Engineers in Business Competition has been integrated into the SEED Fund to engage more engineers with business start-up. Students from specific and relevant engineering modules are also able to apply via their coursework assignments, offering an innovative approach to reaching out to more students with the opportunity.
First Prize Winner - Mauro Cozzi Gasparotti (left), Acoustical Engineering, EmitWise - £1,500 Engineers in Business Prize

Have you ever thought about what it takes for a chocolate bar to go from not existing to being deliciously ready to be eaten? The products we consume every day go through hundreds of processes and travel thousands of miles before reaching you, the end-consumer. Each process and mile travelled generates enormous amounts of emissions, whether directly via the gases emitted by trucks, or indirectly via the energy consumed by industrial processes. In a world where addressing climate change is increasingly on governments’ and companies’ minds, and consumption is only increasing, optimising supply chains for minimised emissions becomes critical in maintaining a hospitable planet.

EmitWise tells large companies where in their supply chains they are generating the most emissions, and suggest how they can reallocate resources to produce the same output with lowered environmental impact. To create a business incentive, we show our customers how, by cutting emissions, they make money back in the form of carbon credits and reduced operational costs.
Runner-Up 1: Lachlan Williams, MEng Aero and Astro Engineering Student, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Developer - £500 Engineers in Business Prize

This venture aims to deliver innovative Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) solutions to the market. The emphasis is not on the initial aircraft, but on developing robust design and manufacturing techniques which yield innovative platforms efficiently, enabling human capital to focus on design instead of achieving manufacturability.

The business will express this ethos of innovative design through its first product: a tiltrotor UAV platform which will exploit a gap in the market for a fixed-wing, Vertical Take-Off and Lift (VTOL) hybrid. The proposed UAV will be able to take off and land anywhere, anytime, with the endurance, speed and noise performance of a fixed-wing aircraft and the hover performance of a VTOL.
Runner-Up 2: Dominika Wosczyk, MSc Artificial Intellidence, Language Learning App - £500 Engineers in Business Prize

The Language Learning App gives people the opportunity to practice a language through interactive and personalised stories and compelling characters. The app uses AI to offer the user a way to practice a language through interactive stories. Instead of a ‘rule first’ approach, we want the learners to help immerse themselves within the language as they go along compelling narratives.

The learner would be practising their conversational skills as they talk multiple characters and follow an interactive story. Each one of them having different personalities that show through the dialogues. Talking to characters will help the user to naturally absorb the grammar and the vocabulary as they are given feedback so the learner can improve fast.

The team will first focus on reaching as many people as possible by offering the service free of charge initially. The possible routes to monetise the app would then be to add in-app purchases or subscription.

Positive Feedback

The Engineers in Business Competition Prize has transformed the landscape for engaging our engineering students with what is possible, helping them to recognise the business applications for their engineering solutions, and validating those ideas with prize funding. While the Engineers in Business Fund has been open to all our engineering students at the University of Southampton through our SEED Fund Competition, an additional application route has been made available to engineering students from a specific module, which has encouraged much greater diversity in applications and has raised greater awareness of the opportunity.

Sarah Rogers, Head of Student Enterprise, University of Southampton