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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.
Winner: YourSpot - Computer Science Undergraduates, Douglas Sword and George Burke - £400 Engineers in Business Prize

George Burke and Douglas Sword devised an app, YourSpot, which accurately monitors service utilisation in real-time to help people make the best use of available facilities.

The team plans to first pilot YourSpot with universities, monitoring their library and other study spaces' availability. The app would help students find available spots across multiple buildings (and campuses) without them having to physically check how busy they are in person.

The data collected would also allow the university to determine how well-used each building, floor, and even room was – ensuring they could efficiently target spending and justify additional investments to improve facilities where needed, bolstering student satisfaction.

YourSpot also makes sure that existing investments are realised to their full potential. As students will now be aware of how busy certain areas are, they would redistribute themselves depending on demand.

This was a problem that George and Douglas quickly identified at York whilst they were collecting data to help show how important YourSpot would be. The University has two libraries directly next door to each other with similar capacity, yet one was consistently twice as busy as the other (tracked every hour over weeks).

Beyond the pilot, these award-winning students are looking at other sectors such as retail, museums, train carriages (tracking customers' movements in stores for data analysis) and other consumer-facing businesses that would directly benefit from active redistribution and tracking.

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