Encouraging sustainable enterprise – the LucEnt Challenge

The LucEnt Challenge, sponsored by Cambridge Precision Ltd took place this weekend at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge.  The challenge features teams led by ‘Lucy’ students, who work to develop a viable enterprise, inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Participants form multi-disciplinary teams and pool diverse skills to tackle real-world problems. Guided by expert mentors from academia and Cambridge’s business communities, students from the University of Cambridge generate cutting-edge concepts and pitch to win funding to help develop their ideas.

The College’s commitment to inclusion is clearly visible in this initiative. Reflected in the diverse makeup of the teams, the educational and cultural insights of the participants and their combined enthusiasm to deliver a better world. The Lucent Challenge is a learning opportunity, not a purely competitive process. Throughout the weekend, the teams receive 1:1 mentorship from experts and entrepreneurs, helping them to apply critical evaluation techniques and build up confidence in their proposition and the skills required to present in a pitch. They then have the opportunity to present their ideas to win funding towards implementing their vision. All teams participate in the the presentation sessions, learning from others and seeing how each idea has developed from concept to proposition.

Bruno Cotta, Ambassador for Cambridge Judge Business School and College Fellow, summed up the weekend and congratulated all involved. ‘It’s been a pleasure to champion this initiative.  I’m grateful to our diverse team of mentors, who gave their time, energy and expertise to help promising students and alumni from many different disciplines at Lucy, together with talented students joining them from several other Cambridge Colleges. I look forward to seeing this next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs achieve great things in the future.’

The judges, Professor Dame Madeleine Atkins and Richard Hefford Hobbs, awarded the LucEnt prize to PressPass: a start-up that uses AI to support more accurate journalism. PressPass is led by Rebecca Gatto. They also highly commended Earthwise Linen and EcoInsight and noted the real potential of all submissions and the huge progress every team had made over the weekend, taking on board mentors’ comments and having the ability to review and reshape these early-stage business propositions.

Chairman at Cambridge Precision Ltd, Richard Hefford-Hobbs, shared his enthusiasm, “This year’s Lucent Challenge has been quite remarkable, with all teams presenting very worthwhile projects and showing clear progress in the development of their ideas through engagement with the process.
There was much to commend in each of the submissions. The boldness of vision and the diversity of response illustrated by the teams as they each worked towards a sustainable development goal displayed outstanding creativity and heartfelt commitment to building a better world.
I have every confidence that some of the ideas will crystallise into viable business ventures, whilst others will achieve in creating cultural shift, and all of the individuals involved will make a meaningful contribution to society through their studies and impact

A welcome addition to this year’s Enterprise Weekend was the Female Founders Prize, a new initiative targeting female entrepreneurs. Two awards were made under this banner, to Slice (optimising the delivery of transplant organs) and EarthWise Linen (creating a sustainable linen to secure an existing heritage industry).

Cambridge Precision Ltd is delighted to support this initiative and with this being the third event, the process and value continues to grow and increase impact.

The weekend was launched with a Formal Hall on Friday 8th March, hosted by Lucy Cavendish College, where prestigious guests joined students from the college, to celebrate International Women’s Day and the ongoing success of the LucEnt initiativeUmaima Malik Ahmad, CEO and co-founder of 52North gave an inspiring welcome to the event, reminding all present that ‘success’ comes in many forms and is a personal goal achievable for all.