In an initiative linking local businesses with University of Winchester students, around 100 final-year students from Winchester Business School have undertaken in-depth innovation consultancy projects on behalf of two Hampshire-based companies as part of their studies.
The two businesses taking part in the iLab initiative were Binky Bear and Splendid Fred Records. Binky Bear publishes read and explore books about a bear who loves adventure. Splendid Fred Records is an original music and spoken-word label launched in 2015 and based in Winchester.
Binky Bear and Splendid Fred Records both set a challenge relating to their business objectives for the students to investigate in teams. The teams had four weeks to undertake market research and creative thinking before submitting an innovation concept report outlining their recommendations.
Liz Nankivell, co-creator of Binky Bear, and Glenn Fosbraey (pictured above), founder of Splendid Fred Records, provided feedback to students on their reports at a special event at Winchester Business School when they confirmed that they will be taking forward a number of the ideas suggested by the students.
"Having so many talented individuals offer such detailed business advice has been an invaluable experience, and I have been presented with realistic initiatives that will improve the record label a great deal," said Glenn Fosbraey.
Liz Nankivell said: "We are delighted to have been invited to take part in iLab and it has been of significant commercial benefit to us at Binky Bear. We gave students the business objective of working out how to boost traffic to our Binky Bear website. They have performed some very competent analyses of our market segment and of our actual business and each group have come up with at least one idea for reaching our business objective."
"We have left the iLab process with a list of immediate actions and some longer-term ideas to pursue in the weeks and months ahead. The best reports would be on a par with those produced by an external business analyst and they are therefore of significant commercial value to a business like Binky Bear. A quick Google search tells me that current business analyst rates are around £400 per project so participating in iLab has definitely been worth our time investment. It has also been a very enjoyable process and an opportunity for us to give back."
Dr John Richardson, Senior Lecturer in Innovation Management, explains: "The opportunity to undertake a consultancy report to meet the specific needs of a local business offered by the Winchester iLab initiative helps students to develop skills and experience which build their employability. iLab also adds real value for businesses, evidenced by the fact that many of the students' recommendations are being taken forward by Binky Bear and Splendid Fred Records."
Liz Nankivell added: "I have been impressed with the quality of the students' work and if there are any businesses out there who are hiring, some very competent Winchester Business School graduates will be hitting the job market in the next few months."
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