Date published: June 05, 2017

Innovating Future Business 2017 – A Real Success

On the 10th of May, the University of Salford hosted the final of our inaugural Innovating Future Business (IFB) Competition 2017 at MediaCityUK, as part of a wider ICZ event organised by Alex Fenton from the Salford Business School.  The day was a great success, with the morning bringing together influential guest speakers from the sports business sector and the afternoon the IFB competition finals.

The IFB competition finals were held as a Dragon’s Den style business competition-, which brought together external investors from some of our industry partners:  Cariocca EnterprisesMarketing SignalsWakeletANS Group and Web Applications UK.  We are passionate about providing our students with the best opportunities for development, so we wanted to work closely with successful industry investors and entrepreneurs to give students a chance to pitch their ideas in order to secure investment capital.

We also teamed up with University Alliance, and through this work we engaged with 11 Alliance Universities, which sent representative teams made up of some of the best young entrepreneurs from across the country, to compete in the final of Innovating Future Business 2017 for a pool of prizes worth £5000 and potential investment from the five investors.

The day was a great celebration of the future of business and young entrepreneurs, forging high quality relationships between our University and industry, making it one of the latest successful ICZ initiatives at the University of Salford.

The competition launched in January - and through the Enterprise Team’s support we generated a record 40 individual and team entries for the local heats at Salford. The entrants attended Business Planning and Pitching workshops and received business mentoring from our skilled business advisers. We have also embedded this event into two modules: Business IT Ecommerce and PGCert in Professional Development and Management, which increased our students’ engagement in this opportunity. Participants from Salford took part in a local heat during our Big Pitch Day on the 22nd of March where we awarded 16 teams with our Santander Start-up and Make The Difference cash awards towards making their idea into a reality.

How the day unfolded

The Innovating Future Business Competition was the first of its kind, breaking new ground with multiple Universities and five companies involved. A real buzz was created from the moment people arrived, online via social media and during lunch, seeing people networking and truly enjoying themselves.

The start of the competition was marked by Alex Fenton’s speech, as he informed a capacity crowd of 120 people in the audience about how the idea for the competition was formed and how the event was organised, together with the Enterprise Team and University Alliance.

Investors then all took the stand talking a little about themselves and what they wished to see in the students competing on the day. They all impressed the audience with their stories, drive and ambition, which took them to the point they are in today.

Who took part

The greatest part about the Innovating Future Business 2017 competition is that it attracted very diverse business ideas, from allergy-free cosmetic companies to travel agency ideas, digital healthcare to co-working spaces.

The UA universities involved in the competition were Coventry, Kingston, Liverpool John Moores, Nottingham Trent, Teesside, Brighton, UCLAN, Hertfordshire, Huddersfield, Portsmouth and Salford.

The idea that truly impressed the judges and attracted the most investment came from Ocean Spark Studios, a game development studio run by 4 students at University of Huddersfield. It attracted investment from 3 out of our 5 investors, a total of £1150. Close runner up attracting £1000 were Texmo of University of Hertfordshire, a tailoring company that wishes to revolutionise the way tailors keep their records. Third place was claimed by Buffalo Adventures who won £1000, a travel company created by a University of Brighton student.

Other impressive ideas included Dinky Do Dah from University of Coventry, a pop-up salon experience for children that won £750 on the day, Health+ from Teeside University, which won £250 and Compact Gyms from Nottingham Trent University, who attracted an investment of £250.

Our Salford University team, Pathways, created by 5 students from University of Salford, attracted the top prize of £500 on the day from Gareth Hoyle, founder of Marketing signals and on-going mentorship. Pathways aims to change the way we navigate large buildings such as hospitals, avoiding late appointments and saving time and resources for both patients and the NHS. Zahid Tapas, member of the Pathways team and presenter said: “This is a great opportunity for us. We were going up against teams who had been working on their ideas for three years or more, so to be doing so well so quickly is great.”


The feedback from the event attendees was all positive, with 100% reporting they have enjoyed the event and most wishing to return for next year’s event. Our investors were impressed with all of the finalists and urged them to keep pursuing their dreams. Scott Fletcher form the ANS Group, sent a strong message to the finalists that didn’t receive funding, encouraging them to keep going.

Jack Simpson from Web Applications UK, whom we’ve worked closely over the last 4 years delivering annual competitions for our students, said: “Innovating Future Business was a fantastic event. Many thanks for thinking of us; we’re always glad of an opportunity to work with the University.”

The success of the event was captured on Twitter, where almost 1000 tweets were attracted through the 2 event hashtags, #IFB17 and #UAFutureBiz, appearing on the timelines of over a million people.

Joshua Hastings, from University Alliance, who was also a big part of liaising with other universities said: “I’d like to thank you all for making the Innovating Future Business competition such a success! It was a pleasure to be involved and learn from you in putting on an event like this.”

Alex Fenton, lecturer in digital business said: “It was a great day, with loads of good business ideas. Pathways have got a great idea and deserved their win. They have worked so hard on getting their business off the ground in only a few short weeks. It was a really valuable experience for them and gives them great experience for the future. This competition is just one example of the real world experiences we give to students at Salford.”

Follow up and future opportunities

The event was part of the Salford University’s Industrial Collaboration Zone strategy, which aims to work closely with business to ensure graduates leave Salford with skills needed for them to thrive in whatever career they choose. The University of Salford is committed to developing students and graduates' business ideas and they have a dedicated Enterprise Team available that works collaboratively across the university to ensure success, and this help is available to our graduates for life. If you would like to find out more about future funding opportunities and support for enterprising Salford students, please visit our page here, or email us on .

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