Students gain extensive business knowledge from i-Teams challenge

Olivia Miller
i-Teams participant, Sanjay Jacob [Second-year BSc Computer Science student at the School of Computing] by Matt Cook Photography

Students from a range of disciplines at Kent are aiming to put their experience from the University’s i-Teams 2021 challenge to good use as soon as possible.

i-Teams is a university-based programme connecting students from different academic disciplines to tackle real world business challenges. In Kent’s second year in the programme, students had to hone their problem solving, team working, innovation and presentation skills virtually through eight weekly sessions in preparation for the Grand Final, which was held in March.

Along the way they were mentored by Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce’s Deputy Chief Executive, Tudor Price, whilst working on challenges set by IBM, The Research Network (TRN) and Young Lives Foundation (YLF). Each team had a business advisor to support them during the programme. For the Grand Final, each team had to present their solutions to representatives from these companies.

The first team of students pitched ideas to IBM about how they could address the problem of social isolation through a website to connect people. The second recommended solutions to award winning children’s charity, YLF, on how they could reach a wide and diverse group of children/young people to hear their views of being in care and improving the care system. The third addressed a brief from drug discovery and development company, TFN, suggesting how University of Kent academics could collaborate more with industry.

Every participant was awarded with a certificate, and additional recognition was given to exemplary performances for best team player, leadership skills and presentations skills.

Sanjay Jacob, a second-year BSc Computer Science student at the University’s School of Computing, said: ‘i-Teams Kent 2021 would definitely be a highlight of my life at the University of Kent. It inspired me to learn so much about the businesses, their challenges, team building, effective communication and presentation skills.’

Carole Barron, Director of Knowledge Exchange and Innovation, commented:Transferring the University’s knowledge and expertise is a priority for the University, and student knowledge exchange is a growing part of our agenda. We constantly strive to bring in new ways of engaging students with businesses and i-Teams is a great example of this. I am always delighted to be able to celebrate the ideas, energy and inspiration our students bring to the programme. They have a way of looking at an opportunity from all angles, and by introducing them to real-life challenges it encourages them to think differently.’

Tudor Price added: ‘Working with a multi-disciplinary team of students on live business issues is so incredibly rewarding for both the Student and the Business. This year, despite the move to online delivery, the programme has been a huge success for all those involved. The solutions presented by the Teams were amazing and offer practical and achievable options for the Businesses to take forward. In fact, one of the businesses has already confirmed they will be taking their solution forward to develop commercially which is categorical proof that this programme has value. As a Chamber, the benefits of being involved in this programme have been many fold and it is so rewarding to work with such talented and enthusiastic group of young people. It’s good to know the future will be safe in their hands and we look forward to continuing our relationship with the University of Kent for many years to come.’

i-Teams Kent is funded by the EIRA (Enabling Innovation, Research to Application) project.