Inspiring Futures students - flipchart

Inspiring Futures enables students from the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business, at the University of Plymouth, to engage in knowledge exchange activities, such as consultancy projects, within the curriculum.

Working collaboratively with academics and business leaders from external organisations, businesses and charities across all sectors, innovative learning opportunities for students are generated which address real world challenges faced by the external partners.
Inspiring Futures enables students from the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business at the University to engage in knowledge exchange activities, such as consultancy projects, within the curriculum.
Inspiring Futures gives students the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they develop on their programmes to their client’s business, to support its growth. 
The exchange of ideas and expertise during these collaborations is mutually beneficial; it’s a great way for businesses to benefit from our talented students who will assist them with a short project, whilst giving students the chance to develop a wide range of skills.
Students from Plymouth Business School often work with external clients on marketing projects which might involve a competitor analysis, feeding into a marketing strategy. They might also work with local charities to develop funding strategies.
Students from the School of Art, Design and Architecture work collaboratively with external clients on a wide range of projects, including design, film, animation, sound, photography, copywriting and web design. 
Film students, for example, work with local charities and social enterprises to create short, explainer videos which focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals of either Gender Equality or Climate Action, which organisations can use to showcase the work they are doing.

Unmissable Food Organisation

Unmissable Food Organisation (U.F.O) was a social initiative created by designer and BA Design graduate, Sarah Boot. 
The project was part of Sarah’s third year modules, supported by Inspiring Futures, where students were given the opportunity to work with an external organisation to address the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) brief: “How might we reimagine common spaces to build diverse communities through food?”.
Unmissable Food Organisation CAD evolution

Enhancing students’ employability

Inspiring Futures is really beneficial for students as they have the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to a real business issue, which brings the subject matter to life. 
Their work can have a positive impact on their client’s business or organisation, which fuels students’ engagement and motivation to deliver results. This experience also increases their awareness of different types of businesses and organisations, such as charities and social enterprises.
Inspiring Futures helps students feel more confident applying for jobs and be more career ready. They gain professional content they can showcase and evidence, plus a wide range of professional and personal skills which enhances future job applications, giving them invaluable talking points for interviews. 
Gaining in-depth insight into businesses can also inspire some students to start their own business or go on to study at postgraduate level.
In a recent survey, 83% of students who took part in an Inspiring Futures consultancy project were satisfied with their experience and 74% felt they had made a meaningful contribution to the business which they were engaged with.


  • Communication skills
  • Customer awareness
  • Commercial awareness
  • Problem solving
  • Project management
  • Team working
  • Negotiating/ influencing
  • Presenting
  • Prioritisation
  • Leadership skills
  • Increased confidence
  • Time management
  • Ability to self-manage
  • Develop professional networks

Hugh Waters, BSc (Hons) Business Management student, said:

"Ramer Sponges Ltd provided me with an invaluable opportunity to gain skills in implementing and managing a real-life market research project brief. I have since used the skills and experience gained, as a foundation for other successful projects and will continue to do so in my future career."

Students' experiences of Inspiring Futures

Collaborative community working

Aminah Miah, BA (Hons) Creative Media undergraduate student, worked with a local client to expand their social media presence. 
The company’s aim was to save and restore a local landmark and turn it into a multi-space venue. The business received an effective, broad social media marketing campaign, and Aminah gained experience of working on a collaborative project, refining their skills within a professional setting.

Supporting businesses and communities

Inspiring Futures gives back to the community by enabling collaborations between students and a wide range of businesses and organisations from start-ups through to large organisations, including charities and social enterprises. 
As these activities form part of the students’ studies, there is no financial cost for the business, and students can help accelerate a project that supports the business or organisation to develop and grow.
Many clients have benefited from the high quality, insightful work produced by students, supporting their business objectives, which demonstrates to them just how much students have to offer.
Clients value being pushed out of their comfort zone and benefit from the fresh perspectives students bring. Other Inspiring Futures’ benefits for external partners include:
  • reinforcing links with the University
  • the opportunity to give back to the University and provide students with experience and an opportunity to develop their skills
  • an opportunity to raise brand awareness among students who are a future talent pipeline
  • a free resource, as students often have expertise in areas which the organisation does not
  • exposure to new and innovative ideas
  • an external perspective on the organisation: a fresh pair of eyes from a critical friend
  • an opportunity to improve business operations and strategy.

"The students have done a fantastic project and highlighted some real areas where, as a company, we can really push our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts within the South West."

Martyn Flynn, Training and Development Manager, Enterprise Rent-A-Car

"They exceeded our expectations! They came to the initial meeting having researched our business, to gain understanding, and their findings have shaped our marketing plan for the coming year. It has been great meeting the bright minds of the future."

Kate Smith, Director, Memory Matters South West CIC

Clients' experiences of Inspiring Futures

Supporting Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business academics

With over ten years’ experience delivering Inspiring Futures, Penny Hele has developed strong relationships with external partners and can offer support to Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business academics who wish to embed Inspiring Futures knowledge exchange activities into the curriculum.

This could include:

  • identifying module requirements
  • sourcing clients from external businesses and organisations
  • negotiating appropriate project briefs
  • advising about best practices
  • client co-ordination
  • distributing students’ work
  • requesting feedback

The level of support can be tailored to the module leader’s requirements.