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Leicester College students make final of global competition

A group of resourceful students from Leicester College have made the final of an international competition launched during Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW).

The DECA Idea Challenge 2015 tasked entrants with generating an innovative use for cardboard boxes.

Team Paradox’s ‘Camping Chair’ has earned them one of just 16 finalist spots, for which they were chosen from over 2,230 submissions across 11 countries.

Jasper Alyn Stephens, said: “Every year, thousands of nylon chairs and tents are left behind at music festivals. At the Isle of Wight Festival in 2014, 12,000 nylon chairs and tents were left behind, which took 485 man hours to clear up and none of it could be recycled.

“So by producing a camping chair made completely from cardboard, meaning that if people do leave them at festivals they can be recycled, therefore reducing waste in the UK.”

The students – who attend the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy at the college – were given just days to develop their product during GEW, which is the world’s largest campaign promoting entrepreneurship.

Once complete, they had to produce a three-minute video detailing the rationale behind the chair and upload it to Youtube.

Peter Jones Enterprise Academy Business Enterprise Manager Rupinder Drew said: “I’m so impressed with the creativity and initiative our students have shown. They’ve come up with a product that has incredible potential and addresses a serious environmental issue, which is brilliant.”

There were also a team of 6 business people from a variety of industries who gave up their time to help mentor and support the teams with their ideas. One mentor donated a box of industrial strength masking tape to aid with developing the products.

The competition is split into categories, so the Leicester group are now up against two teams – from the U.S. and Holland – in the college section. The winners will be announced on Tuesday 26th January.

Jonathan Ryley, Product Designer said: “The chair itself is extremely strong and is woven from strips of cardboard that we sourced from a local pub. The build is structured around the shape of a triangle, as it’s the strongest shape to give it support.

“The centre-piece doubles up as both a desk and container for drinks, which is ideal for music festivals. However, our prototype has plenty of room for optimisation – we currently use lots of tape, but this can be changed to stitching, which is more biodegradable.”

Ben Webbe, Product Developer explained that the chair could also be given as a donation to homeless people or refugees.

The DECA Idea Challenge is supported by Pearson and is part of the company’s ‘Connect Learning to Earning’ campaign, which focuses on promoting entrepreneurial skills.

The competition was designed to be an “energising, experiential exercise” for students, teaching them about idea generation in a fun and exciting way.

Ben Webbe said:

“We wanted to think of a product that would help the environment but also something that had a practical use.”

“It feels amazing to reach the final stage of the competition, especially because there was some fantastic international entries. We really hope we win!”

The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy is a nationwide network of colleges that deliver specialist courses in enterprise and entrepreneurship. The academy is run by the Peter Jones Foundation.

Jasmine Gannon – Team Leader

Jasper Alyn Stephens – Video Producer

Jodie Triner – Researcher

Ben Webbe – Product Developer

Jonathan Ryley – Product Designer

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