How enterprise intern Liam Hobbins helped Dr Lisa Zaidell to bring her product, re-juice, to market
Introducing the enterprise internship
As part of the university’s efforts to provide students with as many opportunities as possible to gain real-life, practical experience, the Student Enterprise team has developed a new concept: enterprise interns.
These roles are focused on giving students the chance to contribute to the development of commercial projects at LSBU. Students are given the chance to develop their research skills and specific subject knowledge while gaining valuable commercial experience by helping to develop an idea for the market. Their involvement can range from activities such as conducting market research through to assisting with product development or testing. LSBU staff with commercial ideas can access this support from enterprise interns to help get their ideas off the ground.
The 120-hour internships allow the students to gain valuable commercial experience in all areas, from factors impacting an idea’s development to practical insights into what is involved in taking an idea or product to market.
The internship quite simply kick-started the project, which had been sitting in my mind for a number of years. The internship has developed a good starting point, a concept and a product to work with more in the future. We now aim to test the beverage’s effects of psychophysiological factors and exercise performance.
Dr Lisa Zaidell
One clear example of this was a project led by Dr Lisa Zaidell to develop a nutritional beverage and powder brand made from healthy natural ingredients designed to supplement the body to prepare for, and recover from, exercise. Branded as Re-Juice, the concept aims to meet the needs of the physically active consumer or those with intentions to exercise, with different products specifically designed for rehydration, recovery and refreshment.
“My beverage-based nutrition would provide a quick and convenient source of nutrients that can be consumed as and when required,” says Dr Zaidell, Senior Research Fellow at LSBU. “Re-Juice aims to be a novel and innovative brand developed by scientists, with an important component being to provide a ‘science says, science shows’ approach that reinforces brand credibility.
Getting commercial projects off the ground
“I decided to use the help of an intern because I wanted to form a team to work around the project and get others involved and excited about the project’s potential. Due to other work commitments I wasn’t able to get this project off the ground on my own, and so wanted to give one of our students some experience of working on a project with commercial potential. I had previously supervised Liam’s undergraduate dissertation in which he investigated the effects of antioxidants [green tea and cherry juice] on recovery from exercise. As a result, his interest in nutrition, knowledge of exercise science and dedication to the project gave me the confidence that he was the right person to work with on the Re-Juice brand. Through the internship scheme I also knew I would become more familiar with the work of Research, Enterprise and Innovation [REI] team, which at the time I knew very little about. Knowing what expertise is available at LSBU to help generate and develop research ideas is extremely beneficial. By taking on an internship it helped bring focus to the project due to the imposed timeframe that the project needed to be completed within.”
Completing the internship really helped me gauge how this type of environment works and has helped with decision making when there is a lot at stake such as finance, clientele and reputation. In the longer term, it was provided me with the thinking behind how a business may be created and developed, which wasn’t something that I had thought about before.
Liam Hobbins, Enterprise Intern
Enterprise Internships – great experience for students
The BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science graduate Dr Zaidell refers to is Liam Hobbins and he says that, after recently graduating, the chance to continue working with his academic supervisor on a project of genuine interest was what made him decide to become involved before embarking on his PhD research. His role involved working on the development of a nutritional plant-based drink targeted towards providing essential nutrients to aid exercise performance, specifically for those with busy and stressful lives.
“The project was really interesting from start to finish,” he explains. “Right from the off, it was full on to develop ideas for our product, and then it was a case of constantly liaising with REI to ensure we – as people from a science background – were on the right track in terms of an output relating to business as well. Being involved in the project allowed me to develop the ability to manage multiple tasks when working to a strict deadline, alongside the skills and experiences necessary to combine working in both a scientific and business manner.
Reaping the rewards
“In terms of how being involved will benefit me going forward, in the short term my PhD involves scientific work as well as working for my funders on a part-time basis in a business environment. Completing the internship really helped me gauge how this type of environment works, as I hadn’t had much experience previously, and has helped with decision making when there is a lot at stake such as finance, clientele and reputation. In the longer term, it was provided me with the thinking behind how a business may be created and developed, which wasn’t something that I had thought about before, and given me a taste of how we could go about developing the current project further alongside other ideas that may be in the pipeline.”
With Liam clearly feeling that his involvement in the project has been of real benefit, how does Dr Zaidell believe it has helped her nascent business concept? “Liam provided additional knowledge of the current exercise science field and insight from his own experience of exercise performance. He also brought some renewed energy to the project, which certainly helped to refresh mine.
An exciting future
“On a more general level, the internship quite simply kick-started the project, which had been sitting in my mind for a number of years. Just by applying for the intern, and talking with Liam and others about it, it has allowed me to get it out of my mind. The internship has developed a good starting point, a concept and a product to work with more in the future. We now aim to test the beverage’s effects of psychophysiological factors and exercise performance. This proof-of-concept study is due to be completed in July 2017, funded by REI.”
Now that the Re-Juice concept looks set for an exciting future, and with both participants delighted at the internship’s success, we leave it to Liam to provide one final thought: “Many students are unsure of what role, route, pathway or job to take upon graduating. This scheme, alongside the variety of projects available through it, is a fantastic way to give students an opportunity of a possible job they may be interested in. The interns are able to take on multiple and different challenges, roles and projects, and that can only help to open up their future.”