COVID-19 Update - 08 September 2020

University of York

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York University’s Business Innovation & Entrepreneurship course provides broad coverage of what’s involved in the exploitation of technologies through innovation and entrepreneurship. It is a practical introduction to the creation and development of enterprises that generate and sustain value from ideas, inventions and opportunities. The broad aims of the course are to (a) develop awareness of, and interests in, business innovation and entrepreneurship, (b) introduce participants to the factors involved in taking new technology to market, (c) enhance employability through greater business awareness and confidence, (d) encourage students to explore ambitions around launching or joining early-stage businesses and develop students' potential to become job creators.

Joint Winner: Runforge - Dan Yates and Jack Thoo-Tinsley, First Year Computer Science Undergraduates - £1,500 Engineers in Business Prize

Runforge is an innovative mobile app incentivising people to get fit and start running in a whole new way. Our app gives those who need that extra push a reason to run, and those who already run a reason to carry on and push further.

Runforge allows users to generate unique, tailor-made running routes based on a variety of customisable options. Each run will have a different length and estimated running time, and this directly translates into how much of our in-game currency, energy, they will get from completing the run. The longer the run, the more energy currency it will be worth. Energy is the currency that users spend in the in-game energy shop in order to purchase a variety of virtual items which can be used to build up and develop their ecosystem. Users can also run with friends in the real world to gain bonuses, or even compete with their friends through our leaderboard system.

The idea for Runforge came about in a very simple way. Dan was trying to get into running but there was nothing on the market giving him the push to get out and start. Runforge looked at how to tackle this problem by providing a unique and fun solution for many people who need that extra push to start running. With the invention of smartphones and wearable technology, the fitness and mobile gaming markets are more compatible than ever, but barely anything exists in this market.

The Runforge inventors are progressing the idea further - by the end of 2019, they will have their first running prototype and will begin beta testing soon after.

Dan said, “The future of Runforge is bright. As the app grows, we will add more and more content to keep players captivated. Runforge has an endless list of possibilities and it will be a long time before we run out of ways to keep people running with Runforge.”
Joint Winner: CheckIt - Yuveer Ramchandani, Shanyi He, Kenric Yuen, Rebecca Cressey and Jiawei Xu (not pictured) - BSc Interactive Media Undergraduates - £1,500 Engineers in Business Prize

CheckIt is a barcode scanning app, intended for use while shopping to check the ingredients in products. It is aimed at those suffering from allergies, intolerances or restricted diets. This will be available for iOS and Android devices in the UK market, and will enable the user to create a list of intolerances; scan products to see if they are suitable; and also see a list of recommended alternative products that satisfies their requirements.

Our mission is to increase customer awareness of ingredients in food and cosmetics, providing an easier solution for people with allergies, or even those who are diet conscious due to health or ethical reasons. We aim to create an innovative new approach for managing ingredient awareness in the UK market.

In a world where a huge number of consumers are actively avoiding at least one ingredient for health or lifestyle reasons, CheckIt will assist its users by providing an easy way to find products suitable for their lifestyle through a mobile app.

CheckIt will combat many of the problems faced by users, in order to help them save both time and money while shopping. Those who download the app will no longer have to waste time attempting to decipher tiny ingredients lists on packaging, as the app will display the necessary information clearly and concisely. This will also prevent customers accidentally misreading packaging, which could result in wasted money, or even the use of an unsuitable product by mistake.

The number of people suffering from allergies had been increasing over recent years which shows a growing demand for a service such as CheckIt. Along with the growing trend of vegetarian and vegan diets, this provides up to 20 million potential users for our application. As the food and cosmetic industries adapt to these trends and manufacture suitable products, CheckIt provides a platform for them to promote and introduce their product to market.

As the failure to properly treat allergies in EU alone costs between €55-€151 billion every year, CheckIt as a service not only has the potential to improve the quality of life for its users, but also the ability to promote awareness towards intolerances and improving health nationwide. This give CheckIt a strong position to collaborate with nation-scale health organisation like NHS, AllergyUK and Vegan society.

In preparation for the competition we built a proof of concept design prototype and in order to take our idea forward, we will need to refine the designs prior to developing a full version. In addition to this, we need to dedicate some of our time and resources to developing the business model and exploring the various options available to us.

Commended Finalist: Assemble - Brooke Hatton, Jason Mashinchi, Henry Cadogan - Computer Science Undergraduates

Assemble developed a digital product development toolkit that helps start-ups get products to market and deliver the best customer experiences.
Commended Finalist: FashionSense - Will Jones, Clarke Travis, Courtney Caldecoat, Holly Hermance - Interactive Media Undergraduates, Department of Theatre Film & TV

FashionSense's platform aims to revitalise the high street by helping people put together fashionable outfits.
Commended Finalist: Sign - Toby Green, Laura Silaja, Oliver Dolan - Computer Science Undergraduates

Sign's mobile app will advance equality of opportunity between deaf and hearing people through seamless communication.

Positive Feedback

All participating students in the EIBF York competition had already pitched business ideas at a prior departmental qualifying event, following a taught course on business innovation & entrepreneurship. Feedback received at these departmental events enabled students to review both their business concepts and the way they should be pitched.

The EIBF prize challenged qualifying students to stretch to a further degree of professionalism in the development and pitching of their business ideas. The stimulus of the prize money and the further opportunities offered by the scheme galvanised students competitively to perform at a level that seriously impressed all who attended the event, including myself, the dragons, the Sainsbury Management Fellow and senior representatives from the York Science Park.

Professor Dick Whittington, Hon Professor of Business Innovation, University of York