University of Bath School of Management University of Bath School of Management

What are the sustainable business models of the future?

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"What are the sustainable business models of the future?" This was the question 52 postgraduate students from the School of Management discussed during a week-long business immersion project, called the Future Business Challenge.

The week, led by Margaret Heffernan, the School of Management’s Entrepreneur in Residence, provided students with an opportunity to get out of the classroom and gain a better understanding of how businesses work in reality.

Students from 18 different countries travelled in teams to visit different companies including Divine Chocolate in London, FRC Group on Liverpool, Emma Bridgewater pottery in Stoke on Trent, Yeo Valley in Somerset, Triodos Bank in Bristol, School Trends in Sheffield, Zurich in Swindon and Ovo Energy in Kemble. Students also attended presentations given by the MD of Intel UK, entrepreneurs at the Innovation Centre in Bath and by PwC.

The companies all had some unique and alternative features about their business model. FRC Group functions as a social enterprise recycling furniture and employing and training ex-offenders; Divine Chocolate is a fair trade company, part owned by the Ghanaian cocoa farmers, whilst School Trends is employee-owned.

Students then presented their findings at the RSA in London to a panel of judges. The winning team, which presented the social enterprise model of FRC Group Liverpool, was awarded a £500 team prize.

Participant feedback was highly positive, with one student commenting:
‘As a student in the School of Management, I have never participated in such an activity. It provides a good opportunity to let us get close to the real corporations. The most attractive part is that it offers a good way for students from different backgrounds to work together to figure out the business model for the allocated company’

Margaret Heffernan said:
"The MSc students are studying business at a remarkable time when there are significant questions to be asked about why and how business is done, what the most enriching business models are and how we might be able to build more sustainable businesses. And there's no better way to address those questions than to go and visit a wide range of companies, all succeeding in different ways. For a student of business, there is no substitute for visiting a company, seeing how it works in reality and picking up all the soft data that tells you how it works. I think this very intense week has given the students a lot to think about."

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General Notes For Editors:

The School of Management is one of the UK's leading business schools. Currently ranked 1st for Student Experience (Times Higher Education 2015) and 1st for Business Studies (The Times & Sunday Times University Guide 2016), we are a leading centre for management research - placed 8th in the UK in the latest REF2014.

We are one of a select number of international business schools accredited by EQUIS, the European Foundation for Management Development's quality inspectorate and the Bath MBA has been accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA) since 1976.

The centrality of research to teaching is an essential feature of all our programmes. The School offers a full range of programmes from undergraduate to postgraduate up to PhD level and post-experience programmes including the world-ranked Bath MBA. The School also provides tailored executive development programmes for middle and senior management.

The School of Management has a faculty of over 100 teaching and research staff, including visiting academics, with a professional support team of around 90 managerial and administrative staff. Research income averages £2 million per annum. There are approximately 2,400 students in total comprising some 150 MBA students, over 500 Master’s students, 250 full- and part-time research students, and over 1500 undergraduates following BSc degrees.