Nottingham Business School (NBS) is to once again dedicated its full resource to support businesses with growth and innovation as part of its Thinkubator Challenge 2015.
Businesses of all sizes are invited to submit real challenges for business and management researchers, postgraduates and final year bachelors students – guided by expert academics – to solve during the one-day-event on Wednesday 18 November 2015.
Thinkubator is the only event of its kind in Europe and since its launch in 2013 has helped to solve over 100 problems put forward by businesses from across the UK, with 80% of last year’s challenges coming from Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.
Replicating national figures from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Small Business Survey 2014, many of the challenges submitted to Thinkubator have been central to stimulating growth – focusing on marketing, human resources, access to funding and innovation.
During this year’s event, students will be split into thinking hubs to work on 40 challenges during one full afternoon. After presenting the problem to the students, the challenge submitter will have the chance to attend free business development workshops run by NBS, before returning to their hub for a summary presentation from the group. They will receive a written, achievable action plan on the same day.
A pre-Thinkubator event will also be held on Wednesday 4 November at MediCity, the UK’s centre of excellence in health, beauty and wellbeing innovation which is based on the Boots site in Nottingham. As part of MediCity Innovators’ Week, NBS Master’s students will travel to the business incubator to work on six challenges submitted by MediCity-based companies.
Many of the business which took part last year have seen tangible results. Louise Hendricks, MD of qualitative market research company DFR Market Research, experienced an increase in turnover following a website re-launch as advised by Thinkubator. She said: “Nearly a year on we feel that we have a much better brand identity across different platforms, thanks to the comments made at Thinkubator. The website is certainly much improved, and turnover has increased since the re-launch by 25-30%.”
International electrical supplies company, City Electrical Factors (CEF), was looking to increase awareness of its graduate programme among the student population. Julie Jones, aspire recruitment manager for CEF, commented: “Thanks to the suggestions from the Thinkubator our recruitment and brand awareness has seen significant movement. There has been 50% increase in the number of applications this year compared to last, which is a massive improvement.
“This has enabled me to sit in a boardroom with our directors and confidently validate the reasons for my actions and help justify spending that extra budget on online advertising and putting more effort into producing videos and case studies, as suggested by the Thinkubator team.”
Dean of NBS, Nottingham Trent University, said: “At NBS we are at the forefront of business engagement and we know the issues businesses face. Our unparalleled scale means that we have the resources to offer events such as Thinkubator which give businesses the support they need to stimulate growth.”
NBS holds a Small Business Charter Award for the role it plays in helping to create and develop British enterprise through its links with, and support for, the small business community.
Business are advised to submit their challenge via www.thinkubatorchallenge.com as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. For further information email: ThinkNBS@ntu.ac.uk or call +44 (0)115 848 8139
 Where businesses planned to grow, a number of strategies to support this were reported. The proportions of growth-oriented businesses reporting various strategies were: increase workforce skills (81 per cent); exploit new markets (68 per cent); increase the leadership capability of managers (64 per cent); launch new products or services (58 per cent); and capital investment (54 per cent). Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Small Business Survey 2014