Bangor University has cut through traditional academic boundaries to bring students from different subjects together to compete in multi-disciplinary teams for an ‘Enterprise by Design’ challenge with a winning prize of £2,500.

Now in its eighth year, Enterprise by Design (EbD) combines students drawn from Business studies, Arts, Science and Engineering and aims to deliver projects that are feasible (using current available technology), viable (financially) and desirable (meeting a human need).

Professor Oliver Turnbull, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning at Bangor University who was on the judging panel said of Enterprise by Design: “This is one of the most innovative and inspirational programmes that I’ve seen in higher education, and I’m delighted that it was developed in Bangor University.”

The projects at Bangor run in 12 teams of four students, one from each discipline (Business, Art, Science and Engineering). Every year, teams address a real business challenge given to them by a company to allow for collaboration across disciplines through the University, with a focus on delivering commercially viable business options. The process culminates with teams pitching their new ideas to an expert panel composed of local business leaders and innovation experts.

“I think it is essential that academics and entrepreneurs promote multidisciplinary based working. The problem we have in Higher Education is that we don’t work outside of our disciplines, and this doesn’t reflect how companies actually function.” – Dr Andy Goodman, Academic Lead for Enterprise by Design

In 2017 the design challenge came from Zip World, one of Wales’ leading adventure tourism companies, which has a range of adventure sites locally, boasting the world’s fastest zip line and a unique network of underground trampolines in slate caverns. In keeping with the Zip World vision of constantly innovating around the core activities and developing new and unique offers to clients, the brief was focussed on delivering an improved visitor experience for their diverse customer base. Participating students identified problems and explored solutions relating to a range of target Zip World clients.

MD of Zip World David Stacey presented the £2,500 prize to the winning team for their ‘Slate VR’ concept; a package of VR related benefits to enhance the customer experience at Zip World sites.

“There were several ideas with real potential,” said David. “The final choice was influenced by the credibility of the presenters, the superb content and professional delivery. We want to work with credible people who fit our culture and brand and this team did that brilliantly. We also wanted an innovative solution that challenged the norm and at the same time delivered commercially across a multi-site operation. We felt this group was extremely professional, understood our brand and delivered significant potential for future value.”

Additionally, the winning team were all offered paid employment by Zip World, so impressed were they by their professionalism and innovative thinking.

EbD has been highlighted as best practice case study in Wales by Be The Spark, and Zip World are participating again in the 2018 Challenge along with another leading Adventure Tourism Company, RibRide.

Photo: 2017 Enterprise by Design winners with David Stacey, Managing Director Zip World


This article first appeared in the 2018 State of the Relationship report, commissioned by Research England and compiled and published by NCUB.