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Strathclyde Business School Strathclyde Business School

Values and ventures: smart thinking in the USA

By Dominic Chalmers - Posted on 12 February 2013

Dominic Chalmers, lecturer at the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, looks at a golden opportunity for students to compete at an international competition in the USA.

As the institution that can lay part-claim to introducing television, wind turbines and finger print identification to the world, Strathclyde has an enviable reputation for developing graduates who excel at creativity, problem solving and innovation. In the past year, staff at the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship have been working hard to continue this legacy by providing our undergraduate students with the opportunity to showcase their business expertise at a prominent international event.

On April 19th a team of students from second year will fly to the Neeley School of Business in Fort Worth, Texas, to compete against some of the most prestigious North American and European universities, vying for a top prize of $15,000 in the third annual Values and Ventures event. Students have been studying intensively over the past eight months to develop their creative problem solving abilities, idea generation techniques and business modelling skills.

Their objective has been straightforward: to create an innovative commercial business that simultaneously meets a social objective and makes money - something that has proven to be more of a challenge than first anticipated for many of the students involved. The initial consensus from participants in the class was overwhelming; identifying a social business idea that is also entirely sustainable (i.e. not dependent on grants or charitable income) is more akin to alchemy than any kind of scholastic or entrepreneurial ability.  That said, when the first round of ideas were presented back in December, some highly promising concepts were outlined. Problems were addressed both at home and abroad; they concerned environmental issues and social exclusion, involving both technical innovation and systemic change. Perhaps most impressively, one team even solved the age-old problem of what to do with all of the tents left over after the T in the Park music festival!

Students are currently in the process of refining their ideas in preparation for team selection on February 18th. This is sure to be a tough decision for the judging panel and an even tougher experience for those hoping to be chosen. The entire process is however proving to be a beneficial experience for all students, particularly in terms of exposing undergraduates to the hard work, perseverance and team-building skills that the best employers look for in graduates. Increasingly, organisations are feeding back to the University that they require employees who possess more than ‘just’ a theoretical knowledge of creativity and innovation: competing in this competition goes some way to our graduates fulfilling this demand.

We hope you will follow the progress of our team via regular updates on this blog over the coming months. Our participants will be sharing their experiences as they prepare for their trip to Texas and will be corresponding from the actual event. Please feel free to offer your support and advice for our team in the comments section of this site as the weeks go on!

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