The Imperial Innovation Challenge is a five-day programme, part of the Imperial Full-Time MBA, where students apply business thinking to societal challenges. This year, the challenge addressed Smart Cities and students were tasked with creating an innovative solution to smarter and more resilient urban living.
The students presented their innovative solutions, at the world-renowned Royal Geographical Society, to a panel of three judges: Jeff Pittaway, Faisal Asiz and Harsh Pershad. Student team Parkit was awarded “Most Commercial Solution” and LegalEase won “Most Innovative Solution”.
Suzy McClintock, Full-Time MBA student and member of team Parkit, answers questions on the week.
Suzy, how did you find the week?
Absolutely brilliant – and intense! The speakers were inspiring. There was a different idea from each team in the cohort. I was really impressed by all of their creativity and that it was delivered in one week!
You were part of team ParkIt which won “Most Commercial Solution”. Tell me about ParkIt.
Finding a space for parking is a problem in London. I’ve lived in London my whole life and I’m aware of how terrible it is. We conducted market validation research on the streets of Westminster and this backed up our proposition that an innovative solution to the parking problem is needed.
We also wanted to reduce congestion in a realistic way. It takes an average of 20 minutes to find a parking space. So, we realised that if there was a way of improving parking efficiency, it would have the knock on effect of reducing congestion and pollution as well.
Our solution came in the form of resident’s parking. In London, resident bays are often empty during the day. Using an artificial intelligence platform, ParkIt works out the usage of resident parking spaces and customers get reactive, up-to-date and zone free access to available parking spaces. That way, more spaces are utilised and the local council makes more money than it would have otherwise.
What were the challenges of working in a team?
Everyone on the team was hard-working and practical, however now and then there was heated debate over our financial plan. We couldn’t decide how much information to include in the final presentation to the expert panel. We had to work out what was realistic at this stage and the team was split in half: one half wanted to add more detailed information and the other didn’t. We talked it out and compromised on the detail as it was a time-consuming exercise and we were able to use that time a lot better, I think.
What aspect are you most proud of with ParkIt?
I’m proud of the solution we delivered in such a short time and how practical and realistic it was – one of the panel members actually gave us his card! We also faced a tough grilling from the panel and I’m proud of how well we responded.
What did you find most useful about doing the Imperial Full-Time MBA Innovation Challenge?
I found it a nice combination of our classes, putting into practice aspects of what we’ve learnt, especially innovation skills. It was very interesting to learn about smart cities and hear from people involved in that sector.
Which talk was the highlight of the week for you?
Dr Charles Donovan’s talk on how projects are financed was excellent. We also had a speaker from Macquarie Capital who talked us through infrastructure investment, for example projects that cost several hundreds of millions that you hear about in the news. I didn’t know much about that before and it was very interesting to learn about these types of investments in more detail.