Students innovate for sustainability on national employer-led competition

Spring Competition

Students from Loughborough University and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) impressed employers today with their innovative new technology solutions in support of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

This competition for students studying for employer-accredited Tech Industry Gold degrees is run twice a year as one of the ways employers help undergraduates develop skills that are highly valued by industry. Today’s event was generously sponsored by BT, in line with their corporate commitment to sustainability and using the power of communications to make a better world. 

“Supporting Tech Industry Gold students is part of BT’s strategy to contribute to the UK’s skill pool and help individuals fulfil their potential in a digital world. We are particularly pleased that through this competition we are able to support the development of students on these industry-backed degrees and at the same time encourage new solutions to global sustainability challenges.”  

Wendy James, Leadership, Learning, Talent and Diversity Director, BT

With the competition conducted online for the first time, student teams presented videos they had prepared to a panel of employers from Air Products, AWSM Technologies, CGI, IBM, Finastra, Shell, and Swisscard AECS. They then fielded questions, ranging from how solutions might be scaled and commercialised through to how they had worked together as a team. The employers gave individual feedback to the teams and then formed collective judgements about prizes, based on the quality of the concept, its presentation, teamwork, and the students’ adherence to the brief. 

The competition was originally designed for physical presentation at a national Employer / Student event in London in March which was cancelled at the last minute due to the coronavirus pandemic. Those who volunteered to participate in this online pilot were warmly congratulated by the judges for their achievements, particularly given the need to suddenly work around the limitations of lockdown, quarantine and self-isolation. Using Cisco’s Webex, participants currently living in Switzerland and India contributed to the online event as easily as those based in the UK. 

The competition for 1st years was won by the eight-person Loughborough team, which focused on responsible consumption and production. Their GreenR smartphone app allows consumers to discover a product’s journey from production to supermarket shelf by scanning barcodes, and as a result more easily choose products with the least impact on the planet. The team was highly commended by the judges for their clear, focused and well thought through idea to which consumers could readily relate.

The 1st year team from QMUL, a close runner up, offered a new vision for sustainable urban development with their SustAIN concept. This exploits artificial intelligence to bring together map scanning of land with global best practice in architecture , and could be of particular value in developing countries. As well as their solution, their creative ‘news’ style presentation was noted for praise by judges. 

“What a pleasure it is to help judge this great competition. The judges were extremely impressed by the creativity and professionalism of all the teams, and IBM is delighted to work with colleagues across the sector to give students this unique development opportunity.”

Jon White, Professional Development Manager, IBM

The entries for the 2nd / final year competition were equally well received by the judges. Loughborough’s winning submission showed how their new app, Snap Cycle, would transform students’ approach to recycling through ready access to the local information they would need and the incentive to do so. Judges were impressed by the  practicality of the solution, its link to multiple sustainability goals, and the excellent presentation and teamwork. The QMUL team were praised as highly worthy runners up for their passion and inventiveness, having presented a large scale proposal for generating clean energy without damaging the environment. 

“The experience of participating in these competitions helps all team members grow skills and confidence that are immensely valuable for their future careers. Having judged these competitions for a number of years, this year’s quality and standards were exceptional, all those who participated should be very proud of their achievements.”

Shash Patel, Director of Information, Risk Management & Privacy, Air Products

Each winning team was awarded a BT prize of £500 in cash, and each runner up a BT prize of £300 in cash. 

As well as team prizes, BT and one of the judging companies, Stealth, also provided prizes for individuals identified by the judges for their notable personal contribution. These winners were Blanca Valencia of QMUL, Moli Kaushal of Loughborough and Ashnee Maganial of Loughborough. 

“The advice and support provided by employers has always been a source of motivation for us students on Tech Industry Gold degrees. We are very thankful to have been given the opportunity of this competition to showcase our skills and get extremely valuable advice and guidance.”

Blanca Valencia, Tech Industry Gold degree student, Queen Mary University of London

Any employer interested in getting involved in future competitions and any university interested in finding out more about Tech Industry Gold accreditation should contact  [email protected]. 


About Tech Industry Gold

Tech Industry Gold is the industry accreditation for digital and tech degrees and degree apprenticeships – BSc (Hons), MSci (Hons) and MSc. Designed to meet standards that are defined by employers, Tech Industry Gold programmes integrate industry-relevant academic learning with the technical, business and interpersonal skills new recruits need to excel in digital careers. They not only meet industry standards for content, delivery, and assessment but also offer a unique student experience due to the active support of employers.

All stakeholders benefit: students can choose Tech Industry Gold programmes with confidence because of their results, including outstanding employment and academic outcomes. Employers get easier access to exceptional talent and new recruits with the skills to be immediately productive in work. For universities, offering Tech Industry Gold accredited programmes helps them to grow new markets and recruit highly engaged students who achieve outstanding results.

About Tech Partnership Degrees

Employer-led and not-for-profit, Tech Partnership Degrees unites employers and universities to improve the flow of talent into the digital workforce through industry-accredited Tech Industry Gold degrees and degree apprenticeships.

The Tech Partnership Degrees Employer Board comprises senior executives from Accenture, Air Products, Amazon, AWSM Technologies, Bain & Company, Barclaycard, BT, Capgemini, CGI, Cisco, Deloitte, the Department for Work and Pensions, Equanimity, Fujitsu, HSBC, IBM, Jaguar Land Rover, Network Rail, NHS Digital, Quicksilva, SAS, Tata Consultancy Services and VMWare.

Universities offering Tech Industry Gold accredited degrees and degree apprenticeships include: Anglia Ruskin, Aston, Birkbeck, Blackpool and The Fylde College, BPP, Chester, Chichester, Derby, Exeter, Glasgow Caledonian, Greenwich, Hertfordshire, Lancaster, Leeds Beckett, Loughborough, Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan, Northumbria, the Open University, Oxford Brookes, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), Ravensbourne College, Roehampton / QA, Salford, Sheffield Hallam, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Sunderland, Teesside, University of Central Lancashire, University of East London, University of the West of England (UWE), University of West London (UWL) and Winchester.

See for further details. 

For all enquiries, please email [email protected]