Businesses benefit from free, business consultancy advice from @PlymUniBusiness students via Inspiring Futures

Inspiring Futures is uniquely designed to enhance the employability skills of our undergraduate students from the very start of their university careers, giving them the opportunity to work on consultancy projects which address real business issues set by organisations. In turn, the organisation benefits from free business advice from a team of talented, business students.

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Facts and figures

What started out as a small pilot project involving just 16 students, is now in its fifth year and has grown to include:

  • over 3,000 students
  • in eight modules
  • undertaking nearly 500 consultancy projects
  • in over 250 organisations
  • with an estimated value to the local economy of £750,000.

How does it work?

Inspiring Futures is part of assessed modules which teach students about employability and enterprise whilst developing their professional skills. They are taught the necessary theory to undertake projects, including: project management, team working, communication, presentation and report writing.

An organisation provides a project brief, detailing the business issue they wish the students to investigate on their behalf and this is allocated to a group of students. Students usually work in groups of five and self-select a group leader. At the beginning of the project, students meet with the client to clarify the objectives and ask questions. Under the supervision of an academic member of staff and ongoing guidance from the client, they work remotely to fulfil the brief.

As part of the students’ assessed learning experience, they present their findings to the organisation at the end of the consultancy project. This is usually in the form of a report and/or presentation.

Students may be studying the following programmes:

What sorts of projects are suitable?

Projects need to suitable for the students to undertake remotely as most of the research would be conducted using the internet. Projects also need to be low risk and not business critical.

Each of the following is an authentic brief provided by organisations that have already participated in Inspiring Futures:

  • undertake an online competitor analysis
  • create a social media strategy
  • research funding options
  • undertake a supplier analysis
  • identify potential markets for existing or new products
  • conduct a website review

How do clients benefit?

In addition to the potential financial gains from participating in Inspiring Futures, clients frequently say how beneficial it is to work with the students as they bring fresh eyes and thinking to their organisation. Sometimes the simple questions asked by students as they try and understand a business are more effective than much more expensive consultancy.  

Clients’ experiences

Martyn Flynn, Talent Acquisition Manager, Enterprise Rent-a Car:

“The students have done a fantastic project and highlighted some real areas where, as a company, we can really push our CSR efforts within the South West.”

Ian Smith, Director, Food Plymouth CIC:

“The students did a tremendous job for us and they were a pleasure to work with.”

Kate Smith, Director, Memory Matters South West CIC:

“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.”

Steve Cooper, Director, Ramer Ltd (Salston Associates Ltd):

“Findings and recommendations from their report will be fed into Ramer’s marketing review on this market sector.”

Andrew Prosser, Chief Executive Officer, Series 41:

“The students added value in a number of ways. Being able to delegate market research to them freed me up to work on other things like company strategy and marketing. I used the research that the students did to win funding from the South West Biomedical iNet.”

Please contact Penny.hele@plymouth.ac.uk for more information or how to get involved with Inspiring Futures

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