UEA wins national teaching award

Published by  News Archive

On 6th Aug 2020

Sync the City 2019 participants

The University of East Anglia (UEA) has won a national teaching excellence award for encouraging digital innovation, entrepreneurship and enterprise among students through the Sync the City event which draws on expertise from Norwich’s business community.

It has been announced today (6 August) that UEA has been recognised with a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) by Advance HE which acknowledges how collaborating with local entrepreneurs through the Sync the City event impacts on students’ learning about the professional world.

Sync the City is an annual 54 hour hands-on workshop hosted in Norwich where teams of students, developers, designers and mentors produce a digital solution to address a social or business problem.

Teams pitch their prototype solution, along with a business model to a panel of judges to win a £3,000 prize, and the audience vote for their people’s choice winning team, who receive a £1,000 prize. Previous winners have gone on to form start-ups after the event.

Dr Alfonso Avila-Merino, who is the academic teaching lead for the event, said: “I like to think of Sync the City as a combination of Dragons’ Den and The Apprentice. We know that entrepreneurship is not simply learnt in a classroom and this event really puts students through their paces. They have lightbulb moments, make mistakes and have the valuable opportunity to draw on advice from local business people with decades of experience.

“Sync the City is one element of a whole host of support we offer students to explore and develop their own business ideas and skills. Our Student Enterprise Service hosts workshops, provides mentoring and there is also funding available through UEA’s Enterprise Fund.”

Over 500 students have attended the event since it first launched in 2014 from UEA, Norwich University of Arts (NUA) and West Suffolk College. They are exposed to a high-pressured and uncertain creative business process and can work with people from a number of sectors including corporates, SMEs, start-ups, charities and local government. 

Research shows that students who are equipped with transferrable skills fostered at events like Sync the City, are more successful when they graduate. Just like graduates Callum Coombes, Nichita Misin and James Rogers who won Sync the City in 2017 and have since set up Safepoint, an app to keep lone-workers safe.

Callum said: "To be in a room alongside 100 other aspirational professionals, from engineers to designers, was brilliant, and the advice and guidance that our team received has stuck with us to this day. It's incredible to think that we attended Sync the City with an idea just a few years ago, and that idea has now grown into Safepoint, a safety platform used by businesses to protect their staff all over the world."

The event first originated from discussions led by UEA’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation Prof Fiona Lettice and John Fagan who is Head of SyncNorwich. Since the first event, around 80 business ideas have been generated, spanning everything from a blind date holiday app where you enter your budget and dates and your holiday is booked for you, to an app which modernises the traditional pub crawl.

Prof Lettice said: “We love working with the local tech sector. Sync the City is a fast-paced and fun event that brings together UEA student talent with entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts to make interesting things happen in a very short space of time. Together we build an ever more vibrant, creative and connected tech community within our region and our students gain confidence and often job offers over the 54 hours.” 

The Sync the City team will celebrate the achievement at an online Advance HE Awards Ceremony in September 2020 and hope to attend the combined 2020 and 2021 Awards Ceremony in person to collect the award and meet the other winners. Sync the City 2020 has been postponed, but the team are busy planning the 2021 event, in the hope that restrictions on mass gatherings lift. 

Latest News

  News
A man at work smiles looking out of a window.
26 May 2022

New toolkit launched to help businesses boost staff wellbeing

Employers can find out the potential financial benefits of increasing employee wellbeing with an innovative cost effectiveness calculator, launched today.

Read more >
  News
Engineers work on an offshore wind farm
25 May 2022

New project launched to boost number of women working in offshore wind

The Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) and the University of East Anglia (UEA) have announced a new joint research project which aims to tackle the gender...

Read more >
  News
A female protestor displays the
19 May 2022

USA slumbers, Europe leads in electoral integrity

The world’s leading democracy is falling behind on electoral integrity, according to new findings from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Royal Military...

Read more >
  News
Cranberries held in two hands.
19 May 2022

How cranberries could improve memory and ward off dementia

Adding cranberries to your diet could help improve memory and brain function, and lower ‘bad’ cholesterol – according to new research from the University of East...

Read more >
Are you searching for something?
  News
Cranberries held in two hands.
19 May 2022

How cranberries could improve memory and ward off dementia

Adding cranberries to your diet could help improve memory and brain function, and lower ‘bad’ cholesterol – according to new research from the University of East...

Read more >
  News
Surgeons perform heart surgery in an operating theatre.
18 May 2022

Timing of heart surgery crucial, research shows

Valve replacement heart surgery should be performed earlier than conventionally thought for people with aortic stenosis – according to new research from the...

Read more >
  News
16 May 2022

From testing for plastics in teabags to a Q&A with Countrywise’s Liz Bonnin: UEA’s Green Film Festival is back

Following a two-year pandemic hiatus, the Green Film Festival at the University of East Anglia (UEA) is back from Thursday 19 May - Saturday 21 May, offering...

Read more >
  News
Will Harris
26 May 2022

Will Harris appointed as new Visiting Poetry Fellow at The British Archive for Contemporary Writing

The British Archive for Contemporary Writing, based in UEA Library, has announced the appointment of a new Visiting Poetry Fellow, Will Harris.

Read more >
  News
World of lights with a really bright light shining from Norwich
12 May 2022

UEA’s research confirmed as ‘world-leading’ by national assessment

The global significance and real-world impact of the University of East Anglia’s (UEA’s) research has been confirmed with the Research Excellence Framework 2021...

Read more >
  News
11 May 2022

Innovation & Impact Awards 2022 winners

From saving the world’s animals through socks, improving animal nutrition to sequencing COVID-19 genomes and developing a diagnostic device for dizziness, there...

Read more >
  News
27 May 2022

Your Chem Magazine May issue

The Spring edition of our UEA Chemistry Magazine: yoUr chEm mAg is now available.

Read more >