OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Thinkubator Challenge

Businesses submit business problems to Thinkubator for students, alumni & academic teams in 'hubs' at Nottingham Business School to solve

Photo of Kate Rushton
2 5

Written by

The Thinkubator Challenge connects businesses with problems with students, alumni and academics which will give suggestions on solutions. 

How does it work?

Businesses submit problems to the Thinkubator Challenge. 

Students (undergraduates, postgraduates and research), alumni and academics (many are consultants to business) form teams aka 'hubs' to work on one challenge. They have three hours to "research, analyse and evaluate the problem, before preparing and finalising their recommendations".

Business representatives are invited to attend the day and present their problems and then hear the suggestions with steps to take. They are offered a free Business Masterclass. The last masterclass covered Building Resilience for SMEs, Growth Planning with a Business Coach and 20 Digital Marketing Tips in 20 Minutes. 

Further information

"Last month, 40 students went to the Houses of Parliament to run a political version of Thinkubator, in which they solved problems set for them by three local MPs on industrial strategy, transport and social mobility.

The students presented their ideas to a VIP audience in the Churchill Room at the House of Commons.:

Taken from the Nottingham Post

"Thinkubator is the only event of its kind in Europe, and since its launch in 2013 it has helped to solve more than 140 problems put forward by businesses. Last year, 81% of the challenges came from companies with head offices in the East Midlands, and 93% from small and medium-sized enterprises. The groups tackled issues related to human resources, marketing, management, and finance."

Taken from Nottingham Trent University website news section

Alumni Fellows Scheme

The University also has an 'Alumni Fellows Scheme' where its alumni members "give two days worth of time per year on activities such as student mentoring, interview support, site visits, and guest lectures. They can also take part in industry buddying with NBS academics and sit on course enhancement boards to ensure relevance of the curriculum to the business world. 

Alumni Fellowships were pioneered at Nottingham Trent University by Nottingham Business School and the scheme is now set to expand across the University, initially to the School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences; the School of Arts and Humanities; and Nottingham Law School."

Taken from the Nottingham Trent Website here

Specifically, please check all that apply:

  • An Individual

Tell us about your work experience:

I am the Community Guide for this challenge. I have studied at Birmingham, Nottingham and Leeds University in the UK and graduated with qualifications in Biochemistry, Toxicology, and Environmental Management. I have held a number of jobs including being a TEFL teacher and energy analyst. I love to learn new skills and loathe stagnation.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

How can we engage alumni in lifelong learning experiences post-graduation? How can we get businesses, students, academics, alumni and other groups to collaborate and to collaborate for lifelong learning? How can the real-world tap into the talent at Universities? Can we involve pre-University students in this process?


Join the conversation:

Photo of Isaac Jumba

Hi Kate! 

Great example of how to engage students, alumni and businesses in learning and innovation. I like the approach where the different hub teams are innovating for different businesses in hours!  Would you know what happens next after the  masterclass and the presentations? Do students continue to  get engaged and attached to the design challenges? I think it's a great way of  tapping talent in universities

Photo of Kate Rushton

I am not sure! I know it is the first initiative of its kind in the UK but not the first of its kind in the world.