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The Durham MBA Innovation Competition

Our Durham MBA (Full-time) students were set an exciting challenge recently. They had to develop a business idea, in groups, that addressed one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a blueprint for global peace and prosperity for people and the planet. Achieving the goals will depend upon the active engagement of both the public and private sectors.

The MBA Innovation Competition, asked the students to draw on their own experiences and understanding to address an SDG challenge across a country or region. The competition launched with a half-day workshop, with the groups working in the following month to build and test their ideas before the final Innovation Award afternoon.

Business experts and entrepreneurs came to the School for the ‘Shark Tank’ final to judge the students’ ideas. Our experienced panel consisted of:

  • Claire Rose – Award sponsor and Durham MBA Alumna, Director of
  • Phil Buckley – Plastech Innovations and Durham PhD Candidate
  • Damien Murphy – Plastech Innovations and MBA Alumnus
  • Marek Tokarski – Senior Enterprise Manager, Durham University Careers and Enterprise
  • Paul Richardson – RAF Leeming Innovation Centre
  • Peter Allen – Associate Dean of External Engagement & Impact at the School, chaired the panel.

Claire Rose, who presented the Innovation Award to the winning team, said:

“The competition showcased high quality, inclusive, long range business innovation thinking. The judging panel were delighted that the MBA teams tackled a rich variety of Sustainable Development Challenges.

The winning team presented an innovative blended model for sustainable applied technology and education practice designed to enhance practice in African wildlife protection. What made the winning business idea particularly useful was that economic, business, technology and innovation practice models could be developed around the core value proposition. The idea has potential to scale on several fronts.”

The group who won the competition consisted of Swabir Abdulrehman, Shuang Hu, Shujie Wu and Yukan Zhao. Their concept was a ‘new to market social enterprise’ which was aimed at the international wildlife conservation effort and founded on the following vision: ‘to build a future where technology can act as a bridge between mankind and wildlife facilitating a peaceful coexistence.’ Swabir said:

“WEnTech has one clear mission: to provide technological support to help conserve wild animals globally. Our group was happy to be rewarded for the hard work that we put into developing the enterprise and we’re excited about its future application.”

Claire went on to say: “The Durham MBA is well known for producing students who are capable, inclusive, deep thinking individuals. A huge thank you to all involved in the Innovation Competition this year, including the kind support and encouragement we’ve received from the innovation community globally. It has been a wonderful event and a valuable opportunity to work collaboratively showcasing Durham MBA talent working together, thinking big about sustainable solutions for global challenges.”

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