RESEARCH COLLABORATIONS

Unilever partnership helps discover fresh entrepreneurial talent

SOURCE: Brooke Cagle/Unsplash
Students are given the opportunity to solve real industry problems in this challenge.


By U2B Staff 

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University students are on their way to becoming the next big thing in the world of entrepreneurship at Cranfield University, that recently hosted the Unilever Innovation Accelerator to discover the potential in their students. 

Running for the second time this year, the innovation accelerator is a unique opportunity for students to develop innovative solutions to business challenges. The participants will also have a chance to contribute to the development of Unilever’s production of ice-cream and tea products. 

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“We have had a long-standing collaboration with Cranfield University and this competition has been a great opportunity to deepen our relationship and to explore new partnership opportunities. We were delighted with the enthusiasm to work on our ice cream and tea innovation agenda and the quality of the work done by the teams. It was a great event with some exciting ideas that we will explore further with the winning teams,” said Unilever Global R&D Vice President Andy Szltehlo. 

Cranfield University is noted for its postgraduate and research offerings in technology and management as well as establishing impactful partnerships with big-time industry players in the UK and internationally.  

The innovation accelerator programme with Unilever allows students to realise their potential in entrepreneurship and get a taste of real-world industry challenges. 

There were a total of 17 teams of participants in this run of the competition, each comprising of members from various disciplines from across the university. The students were presented with four industry challenges by Unilever’s ice cream and tea research and development experts. 

Unilever
The winning team: Muriel Isabelle Hagenaars; Celia Hazi; Shreyas Khanore; Tsepiso Mlambisa. Source: Cranfield University. 

The nine finalist teams were then tasked to spend six weeks to develop innovative solutions with intensive coaching support from Cranfield’s Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship and its Centre for Competitive and Creative Design. The teams were also mentored by experts from Unilever. 

For the final round of the competition, the nine teams presented a seven-minute pitch to an executive judging panel consisting of ice cream, tea and commercialisation experts from Unilever and Cranfield University. 

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The winners of the competition, team Zinda Tea were rewarded with the first prize amounting to  £5,000 followed by two runner up teams; KAM and Ice Cream Yes! 

“All the student teams produced very strong pitches that demonstrated what Cranfield does best, bringing technology and management together. We are extremely grateful for the support that Unilever continues to provide to our students,” said Cranfield University Professor of Leadership and Organisational Change Professor David Denyer.