In March, Norwich Business School (UEA) took part in the fiercely competitive Universities Business Challenge. Here, Luke Bennett, Klaudijus Januitis, Jonathan Davison, Alex Pittson and John Cooper blog about their experience in the competition.
The Universities Business Challenge is a business related competition whereby universities from all over the UK compete against each other to be crowned the UBC Winners. It is designed to test your business knowledge, decision making, team work, enterprise skills and organisational skills. Teams are made up of 3-6 members.
Round one is completed at your university and for 2013/2014 the competition consisted of running a new social enterprise company. Each group was placed into a league of eight other participating teams from universities across the UK. The top two team’s progress to the semi-finals, with the emphasis of success measured upon how much profit is made.
The semi-finals at the RSA were a completely different ball game. The competition was based on innovation with a variety of different challenges, questions, decisions and talks, which suited our team well. The social enterprise idea that we presented was named ‘Hydro-cycle’. This was a shower that filters and recycles the water from a drain back to the shower head, reducing wastage by 80%. We believed that we had created an interesting yet viable business that would impress the judges.
Upon arrival at the RSA building we were greeted by a range of pastries, fruit, hot drinks and juices. We were one of the first teams to arrive and, as the hall filled, the atmosphere became tense as the teams eyed up the competition. Our first thought when seeing the teams that we were up against was “we can do this”. We were never fazed by the names or reputation of the other universities. We just saw them as another team. When the name ‘University of Essex’ popped up, things started to get a bit more exciting as there was an extra incentive to outdo our rivals, especially when Derby Day was approaching. Everyone seemed very professional and was obviously taking the competition seriously. The atmosphere was still tense but mixed with excitement to see what the competition had in store.
Once the competition was underway nerves were forgotten and all groups focused. Competition was good natured between the groups as we shared jokes and conversation with a team from The University of South Wales. We knew the final results would have been close, with four universities in for a shot of going through. As the results were being read out, The Great Hall descended into silence and the atmosphere was full of nerves, tension and anticipation. Bristol and Kingston went through and UEA came in at third place.
Immediately after hearing the results we were devastated to have found out that we had missed out on a place in the UBC final by just 4 points. However, after some thoughts and encouragements from our mentor Graham Manville we realised that coming 3rd out of 20 very competitive teams, and 300 universities overall, is a massive achievement, not only for us, but for the UEA and Norwich Business School as well. Our final standing for the competition put our team comfortably within the top 5% of UBC teams, which reflects very well on our efforts and the UEA and Norwich Business School.
Unfortunately, as we will all be graduating this year, we will be unable to compete in the UBC next year. This is a real shame as we would love to be able to go back and have another go, and try to improve on our final position this year. We would all wholeheartedly recommend participating in the UBC to any aspiring business student, or in fact students from any discipline, as it gave us valuable business experience that we will surely all draw upon in the future.
We would like to take a moment to show our appreciation and gratitude to our mentor Graham Manville. His guidance and support through the competition process made our engagement and subsequent success possible.
Find the teams LinkedIn profiles below: