UoL 4.0 Challenge 2021 Wrap-up

We wanted to reflect on some of our achievements of UoL 4.0 Challenge during the past year, including its contribution towards students’ learning and employability, and innovation within local SMEs. Here are a few highlights: 

Diverse range of SMEs involved!
During 2021, a wide variety of SMEs have joined our project from industries such as retail, health, consultancy and marketing. That’s 18 SMEs who have taken part since the start of our project in 2019!

 

Image of all participating SMEs

 

Solutions implementation
In 2021, three of our previously participating SMEs have implemented our students’ suggestions:

  • Lincoln City Football Club (LCFC) launches their TikTok account!
    LCFC were on the lookout for the digital platforms that would keep their fans engaged during the lockdown period. As a result of taking part in the challenge, LCFC have implemented TikTok. Since joining the platform, LCFC have gained 18.3K and 90.4K likes. Learn More.
  • Willow House (Physiotherapy & Personal Training) have updated their booking system
    Willow House challenged our students with the task of finding an application/platform, which could be used for effective administration of the clinical practice. The solution proposed was an extension to the current system- TM3, which was quickly implemented by Mary Simpson, the owner of Willow House. Watch final presentation. 
  • Systematic Print (Commercial printer in Caistor) have refreshed their website and expanded their design team
    Systematic Print joined our project with a challenge focused on identifying how the brand could differentiate and reposition themselves. Through research and application of theoretical frameworks, the students have generated several possible solutions for Systematic. Their chosen solutions included a website redesign with the focus on the brand image, sustainability values and the offer of design services.

 

Internship and placement opportunities
One of the main advantages of taking part in the project for the students is that they can network and develop valuable connections with the local SMEs:

  • Social Media intern at The Craft Outlet Store
    After taking part in the project, Eric Pepper, the owner of the Craft Outlet Store in Spalding created a social media intern role for a talented student Katerina Filia Kelly, who presented the winning solution as part of the UoL 4.0 Challenge May 2021 ceremony. Katerina has worked with Eric to help to promote the store’s offering to the younger demographic via its main social media channels.
  • Potential opportunity at Hemswell Antiques
    Having been involved in the recent round of the challenge, Paul Dagg, Operations Director of Hemswell Antique Centre has created two internship positions with the purpose of providing our students some real-world experience that would go alongside their university commitments. We hope that Hemswell will find a suitable candidate and that the students will take full advantage of this opportunity!

Celebrating digital stories
To help our students ‘market their skills’ and explore how they could better utilise social media platforms in doing so, our Digital Marketing Officer Hanna Pimanava has been running short seminar sessions entitled ‘UoL Plug-In’. The sessions covered the use of imagery, short videos and ideas on using free graphic design online platforms to creatively and easily display their ideas. Collectively our students have produced over a 100 digital stories on Twitter, which could be utilised as evidence of teamwork and as well as an experience of social media management. 

Image of students engaging in the digital story creation

 

To see what our students have been up to, have a browse on our main social media account: 

https://twitter.com/uolchallenge

Notable guest talks
We have invited three of our notable project alumni to give a guest talk to our students!

Abbey Langford, BA (Hons) International Business Management and Bashkim Muca  BA (Hons) Business Studies have successfully secured employment as a result of taking part in the project. They have discussed the development and application of their skills learned during the project to their current roles. In addition to Abbey and Bashkim, Emily Jackson, MSc Marketing alumna has been invited to talk to our students about her role as a Digital Communications Officer at Longhurst Group Housing Association. Our students have found their advice very inspirational!

 

Alumni photographed together in the hallway of the Business School

 

Workshops created in collaboration with the Business Lincolnshire
Reflecting upon previous projects, we saw short video creation emerge as a frequently suggested solution to some of the challenges. There were, however, constraints identified in the ability of SMEs to implement these, including lack of time, resources and digital skills, and misconceptions about the value that video platforms like TikTok can offer to business. The UoL4.0 Challenge team highlighted this gap with the Business Lincolnshire Growth Hub which has commissioned a series of short video and augmented reality workshops. Business Lincolnshire is thought to be the first Growth Hub to commission business support of this nature; a clear example of students directly informing business support provision.  The workshops are led by Christian Venables, the owner of CSV studio, known for creating content for brands such as Disney, Cartier and Levi’s. 

Book chapter completed
Our academic team has been working on a book chapter which explores the role of industry partners in Challenge Based Learning (CBL) in higher education institutions (HEIs). It further delves into the experiences of participating SMEs, as well as potential opportunities emerging from the CBL partnership, and whether these translate into benefits. 

Poster exhibition hosted
In December 2021, we were able to host our first Poster Exhibition for many months.  This provided the opportunity for students to come together to present and explain their solutions to the members of the public, academics and most importantly the SMEs taking part. Previous SMEs also joined us on this special occasion and asked the students questions. Overall, we were delighted to hear great responses coming from SMEs as well as our partners:

“It was really interesting to view the projects and have the chance to interact with the students. We were really impressed by the level of detail of each of the student teams involved. We had a great time!” – Lore Creative 

The success of the exhibition is attributed to the joint effort of our project team, which includes colleagues from the department of Marketing, Tourism & Languages, Management and Accountancy, Finance & Economics and Professional Services. 

A collage of the poster exhibition, showcasing the students and staff

 

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