Innovation scaleup Wazoku is partnering with the University of Bristol on a series of open innovation challenges that seek to harness the collective brainpower of the 22,000+ students at the University. The series of challenges provide students with the chance to work with global business, gain valuable experience and win cash prizes, and we’ll see what creative solutions the students come up with. 

The exclusive challenges – managed in conjunction with higher education digital services firm Jisc – allow the students to gain experience, win cash, and even get hired by the participating companies by submitting their ideas in response to each challenge.

Open innovation, the crowdsourcing of ideas from a wider community, is highly effective and growing rapidly in usage as organisations look for innovative solutions to the world’s greatest challenges.

Using open innovation

With a myriad of issues that demand urgent action on our part, initiatives such as these have never been more pertinent, even if only to nurture a different way of thinking.

“Open innovation is a way for organisations to look beyond their own boundaries for ideas and inspiration and to access a much broader skill set, experience and expertise,” said Simon Hill, CEO, Wazoku. “There is huge value in the collective crowd, and I can’t wait to see what the students in Bristol come up with.”

The Student Open Innovation Challenges are promoted by Wazoku, whose Bristol office is in Orchard Street, alongside the University of Bristol’s Runway Programme, a student startup incubator/accelerator which is part of the university’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“We want to provide as many real-world opportunities as possible to students in and outside the Centre of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which is why these open innovation challenges are so valuable,” said Neil Coles of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Bristol. “They will provide our students with the chance to test their knowledge, collaborate, gain experience, make a real impact on the world and even earn some money.”

The organisations and challenges involved in the competition are as follows:

  • National Nuclear Laboratory – the NNL is looking for student perspectives on the barriers that inhibit and/or deter students away from trades-based careers and how it can overcome those and entice young talent to enter trades-based career paths.
  • Thales – global technology firm Thales is looking for actionable solutions that will help increase its efforts in maintaining rich biodiversity on its sites, six key ones of which are in the UK.
  • Thales – seeking to recruit student talent to understand better how AI can be used as part of the modern military defence equation.
  • Thales – in a world drowning in data, we must do more with the information we all generate. Thales is looking for student ideas around how humans engage with AI and use it to find specific data in an instant.
  • New Zealand Defence Force – NZDF is looking to promote safety and productivity of their ship bearing arrangement by sourcing new ways to minimize hands-on activity and accurately measure the wear of the bearing arrangement while the ship remains in operation.

Wazoku manages the world’s largest and most powerful open innovation platform and community, InnoCentive. It operates a 500,000+ strong network of ‘solvers’ – entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists, technologists, CEOs, start-ups and more – has a success rate of 78%+ in solving challenges for organisations such as Enel, NASA, AstraZeneca, Shell and Dow Chemical.

It’s a simple process for students at the University of Bristol interested in participating, starting with registering and completing their solver profile, before submitting their response to the appropriate challenge. Students can enter individually or as part of a team of four. The top student solutions will be invited to compete in the final pitch event in front of an evaluation panel with the chance to win a cash prize.