Students reign supreme at UK FLUX contest

Plymouth University has retained its title as the supreme champion of student enterprise after winning a prestigious national competition for the fifth time in eight years.

A team of six students this week took part in the two-day finale of FLUX 500, which encourages budding entrepreneurs to solve a business challenge before pitching to a panel of judges.

Facing competition from 15 other universities, this year’s final task was set by technology giants IBM, with students being asked to develop a product incorporating wearable technology and a healthcare application.

The Plymouth University team, which included business and psychology students going under the name of Igniting Enterprise, impressed the judges with their GLUCOBAND, a wristband which measures blood glucose levels through perspiration to eliminate invasive testing and reduce the risk of hypoglycaemia.

The six students – Francesco D'Alessio (BA (Hons) Business Studies), Usaj Basnet (BSc (Hons) Economics with International Relations), Michelle Singh (BSc (Hons) Psychology), Marc Rowbury (BA (Hons) Business Studies), Mingaile Rutkauskaite (BA (Hons) International Business) and Jack Stevenson (BA (Hons) Business Studies) – worked into the early hours developing their idea, with support from Sarah Facy, Francesca Crickmere and Claire Guy from the University’s Careers & Employability Service, and Gordon Smith from the Faculty of Business.

They then engaged in a series of business meetings with experts from the competition sponsors – including EE, BAE Systems, IBM, Aldi, Deloitte, Thales, Ernst & Young, Santander and FDM Group – before giving their final presentation.

Francesco D’Alessio, Igniting Enterprise team captain, said:

“We've had an amazing time up in Lancaster at the FLUX nationals, and brought great team-working skills and critical thinking to the table. Marc, AJ, Michelle, Mini and Jack all have amazing qualities which combined effectively to execute our business ideas, plans and projections for GLUCOBAND at the event. We are delighted to have retained the trophy for Plymouth, proud to be the new FLUX champions and would like to thank all the fantastic Plymouth University staff who have supported us in achieving our aims.”

The competition finals were held at Lancaster University and followed a series of heats in Plymouth, with the Igniting Enterprise team having previously won a Faculty-wide contest with a marketing solution designed to improve fundraising for the RNLI.

They then impressed the judges again in the University-wide round with their plans to improve the efficiency and reach of the Trussell Trust Callington Foodbank, to secure a place in the nationals.

Shirley Walker, Head of Careers & Employability at Plymouth University, said:

"This competition is among the most prestigious in the business calendar for students, and it is amazing that a team from Plymouth has come out on top once again. The process has shown we have great strength in depth and an outstanding enterprise culture throughout the student community. This particular team were both focussed and determined, as well as being strategic in their thinking and approach, incredibly creative, prepared to do their research, and very strong in their teamwork. It has been a joy to see them develop and grow in confidence.”

Francesco D’Alessio, Igniting Enterprise team captain, said:

We are delighted to have retained the trophy for Plymouth, proud to be the new FLUX champions and would like to thank all the fantastic Plymouth University staff who have supported us in achieving our aims