Inspiring Business by Sharing Success

Business challenges solved with the collective wisdom of the Thinkubator Challenge®

Local and national businesses benefited from the collective wisdom of hundreds of students from Nottingham Business School (NBS) as they put their heads together to solve real challenges as part of the annual Thinkubator Challenge®.

For one afternoon each year, NBS dedicates its full resource to solving 30 real challenges submitted by a variety of businesses and not-for-profit organisations.

A mixture of postgraduates and final year undergraduate students were split into ‘thinking hubs’ to focus on solving one challenge each. They were supported by expert academics, business management researchers and NBS Alumni Fellows.

Businesses presented their challenge to a dedicated hub and the students had three hours to research, analyse and evaluate the problem.

This year’s challenges came from a range of industries, including legal, logistics, food, information technology, creative arts, charity, accountancy and retail. The tasks spanned marketing, branding, recruitment, finance and funding.

Thinkubator is the only event of its scale in Europe and since its launch in 2013, more than 3100 students and 350 members of staff have addressed 239 challenges submitted by businesses from across the UK.

While the groups were working, businesses attended a masterclass on enhancing productivity before returning to the hub for a summary presentation.

Adam Sinnott is the director of CHEFF and is due to open a healthy fast food restaurant in West Bridgford. He challenged students to create marketing plan which targets the local community, in particular sports teams and athletes who train in the area. He said:

“As a start-up business it was great to be able to get other people’s opinions and thoughts on some ideas, and the fact it’s free when finances are tight is amazing.

“The students really thought outside the box and came up with some amazing money-saving ideas I can implement straight away. Even after they’d been thinking non-stop about a business that isn’t even theirs, a couple of them connected with me on Linkedin and have set me up with contacts that could take my business to the next level.”

Chris Chapman, director of BLT Logistics, which provides training for the logistics industry, said:

“We had a challenge ourselves working out what we could do to expand the business, as marketing and getting in front of new clients has been difficult, so we put this to the hub. They reaffirmed some of our existing ideas but also highlighted areas for improvement, such as becoming more mobile friendly. Following Thinkubator we’ll be looking at our branding and online presence.”

Sarah Smith BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance student, said:

“I worked on a challenge for a PR and event management company. For me personally the most challenging part of the day was joining in a with a group of people that I didn't know and having to work together straight away. NBS gives people so many opportunities to work on soft skills like this. I enjoyed the whole experience, it gave me the chance to improve my communication and presentation skills, as well as networking.” 

Professor Baback Yazdani, Dean of Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University, said:

“At NBS, collaboration between our students and the business world is very important. Thinkubator gives both parties the chance to benefit from their respective knowledge and experience.

“Those who come to us for advice receive fresh ideas and advice which can have a significant impact on their bottom line. For our students, this is part of the personalised experience we offer them. They work on real-life situations which match their interests and they learn from the problems the business community is currently facing.”

Although Thinkubator is a one-day event, relationships often thrive afterwards. In some cases, students have visited the organisation they worked with to follow-up with additional work and consultancy.  


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