Cranfield University and Unilever recently collaborated on an event to give students the chance to contribute to the development of the next generation of ice cream and tea products.
Unilver, based in Sharnbrook, manufacture ice cream and tea brands including Magnum, Cornetto, Vienetta, Ben & Jerry’s and PG Tips.
The second Unilever Innovation Accelerator gave students the opportunity to develop solutions to real-life business challenges.
The winning team, Zinda Tea (Muriel Isabelle Hagenaars, Celia Hazi, Shreyas Khanore and Tsepiso Mlambisa) was rewarded with the first prize of £5,000. The runners-up were KAM and Ice Cream Yes!
Andy Sztehlo, Unilever Global R&D Vice President, Ice Cream, commented, “We have had a long-standing collaboration with Cranfield University and this competition has been a great opportunity to deepen our relationship and to explore new partnership opportunities.
“We were delighted with the enthusiasm to work on our ice cream and tea innovation agenda and the quality of the work done by the teams.
“It was a great event with some exciting ideas that we will explore further with the winning teams.”
The hard-fought competition commenced with 17 mixed-skilled teams from across the University.
The students were presented with four real-life challenges by Unilever’s ice cream and tea research and development experts.
These were then shortlisted to the most promising nine teams. They spent six weeks developing their innovative solutions with intensive coaching support from Cranfield’s Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship and its Centre for Competitive and Creative Design, together with individual mentoring from Unilever.
In a close-run finale, the nine teams had just seven minutes to pitch their ideas to an executive judging panel of ice cream, tea and commercialisation experts from Unilever and Cranfield.
Professor David Denyer, Professor of Leadership and Organisational Change at Cranfield University, said, “All the student teams produced very strong pitches that demonstrated what Cranfield does best, bringing technology and management together.
“We are extremely grateful for the support that Unilever continues to provide to our students.”