Students address real world innovation challenges

Last month, students from the ‘Innovation, Thinking and Practice’ module presented their solutions to real-world issues in front of a panel of industry experts.

Teams of students from across the Business School and the wider University were tasked with addressing a real-world innovation challenge, co-developed with a public, private or charity sector partner organisation. The challenge areas including banking, retail, energy, software, local government and healthcare.

The teams then pitched their ideas to local, national and international organisations as a part of the Innovation Thinking and Practice module. The panel included guests from IBM, first direct Bank, OVO Energy, Leeds City Council and more.

Sean Flanagan, Vice-President, Client Engineering and Quantum Ambassador at IBM said:

This module is a great match to real business skill needs. I’ve recently hired 600+ people with exactly these skills - design thinking, business innovation and utilising technology.

The final presentations by the students are always outstanding, a tremendous outcome after just 10 weeks.

During the module, students undertook research, developed ideas and created prototypes and value-based pitch presentations. Protoypes on show included a range of digital solutions, 3-D printed prototypes created in the University’s new HELIX maker space, new processes and events.

Dr Martin Stow, Pro Vice-Chancellor Business Engagement and Enterprise, said:

One of the key strengths of this module is the depth and breadth of the engagement with industry partners.

“It’s great to see such a diverse range of experts from industry involved, developing the innovation challenges, supporting the students inside and outside the classroom and providing feedback during the final pitch presentations.

Ideas pitched by the students included new approaches for reducing energy usage and carbon emissions, AI-based automation for generating financial planning presentations, a seamless in-store shopping experience and health tech innovations for non-emergency patients.

Grace Hassall, a student studying International Business, said: “It’s my most engaging module and is really useful for the future”. 

Dr Martin Stow judging the presentations


The module’s teaching team are Tony Morgan, Dr Lena Jaspersen and Dr Sanaz Sigaroudi. Reflecting on the event, Tony said:

It’s great to see all the teams deliver such inspiring and engaging pitches. Communication skills like this and the other skills the students have developed during the module will be invaluable in their future lives and careers.