Business challenge

FLUX is based around a business challenge, designed to test teamwork, problem solving, creativity and innovation. All taking place over an intense two day competitive event.

The challenge for each competition is in two parts and teams are assessed throughout the two day event.

The initial challenge is set on day 1, teams will compete in one of four to five groups.

Teams in each group will pitch their proposal the following day to a panel of judges.

All teams are then given stage 2 of the challenge and a limited amount of time to work on their solution.

Only the winners from each group have the opportunity to present in the final round of judging to determine the winner.

Challenges from previous FLUX competitions have included:

FLUX2015 - Wearable technology

Initial challenge

Your business will come up with a fully thought through business plan for wearable technology with medical application. Your team will present this to industry professionals at the Wearable Technology World Conference (WTWC) in order to progress your idea. You will need to decide which condition(s) your product will target and the functionality of your device. The WTWC is a new event which is attended by leading industry technologists, investors and subject matter experts in finance, marketing and human resources. The investors and experts will be paying particular attention to your business strategy and the actions you propose to undertake.

Wearable technology has been a feature of intense and growing interest during the last few years with the emergence of items such as HoloLens, Oculus Rift, the Smart Ring and Smart Watches.  Developments in wearable technology are keenly watched by technologists and research & development teams in many industries. Despite several promising trials wearable technology has not yet been widely adopted.
Successful trials of wearable technology have occurred in the medical sector where it is believed the right product could generate significant benefits to users. Critical to success in this sector is the practical application of wearable technology to improve existing techniques or to create a new capability that solves an existing problem.

You and your team will set up a company that will develop and sell a wearable medical device. This must meet a currently un-met need in the healthcare sector and solve an existing problem. The device must be fully tested for healthcare standards in the UK.

You are the team that is bringing this to market and you bring your own assets and skills. You all have some business experience but none of you have started a business related to the healthcare profession previously. Within your network you know people affected by diabetes, high blood pressure, and insomnia, who are all willing to support you should you wish to devise a product which would potentially help monitor and/or improve their condition(s).

There are investors at the Wearable Technology World Conference (WTWC) to whom you may bid for funding. Other forms of funding may also be considered. The framework for the content of your pitch must be developed through engaging with the Xing cards, as part of the Xing process.

You have researched your market and competitor activity and have found you would be first to market with your particular device, particularly if you could solve technical issues around water-resistance and reader sensitivity.

Initial discussion with MHRA points to a tentative Class I classification based on risk (generally regarded as low risk), although questions remain as to patient safety if the device becomes faulty. You have accessed the local Academic Health Science network to provide you with advice for testing the product in a patient cohort.

In order to present your wearable technology concept to industry investors, it is important to think about which market is most viable to enter. The customer market may be less demanding in terms of quality and features of the device, but it would provide a narrower scope and marketing challenges to target the customer segment in need of the device. On the other hand, the hospital and NHS market could provide higher volume, but higher investments in R&D and production may be necessary. In order to successfully present the idea to the investors, you need a robust plan of action that will ultimately influence your choices in every element of the business plan.

Stage 2 final question

You have received an investment from XYZ Co. and have begun final development of your wearable technology. However, upon hearing this information, there have been concerns expressed within the user community over the use and integrity of the collected data. These growing concerns have resulted in pressure groups making representations to XYZ Co. and in the media. You will now present to the XYZ Co. senior management on your approach to managing this situation to restore confidence in your product and their investment.

FLUX2014 - Disaster management

Lancaster is the county town of Lancashire, England. It is situated on the River Lune and has a population of 45,952. Lancaster is a constituent settlement of the wider City of Lancaster, a local government district which has a population of 133,914 and encompasses several outlying settlements, including neighbouring Morecambe.

Long existing as a commercial, cultural and educational centre, Lancaster is the settlement that gives Lancashire its name. Lancaster has several unique ties to the British monarchy; the House of Lancaster was a branch of the English royal family, whilst the Duchy of Lancaster holds large estates on behalf of Elizabeth II, who herself is also the Duke of Lancaster. Lancaster was granted city status in 1937 for its "long association with the crown" and because it was "the county town of the King's Duchy of Lancaster".

With its history based on its port and canal, Lancaster is an ancient settlement, dominated by Lancaster Castle. It is also home to the campus-based Lancaster University and a campus of the University of Cumbria.

Lancaster operates a one-way road system, with Skerton Bridge carrying all the A6 southbound and eastbound traffic. It carries two lanes with traffic coming from Morecambe and from the A6 to the north. South from Skerton Bridge is the Greyhound Bridge carrying the traffic northbound and westbound, and this is the only other vehicular bridge in Lancaster across the river at this time.

At midnight on the 31st March 2014 there has been a severe weather event that has resulted in the River Lune being flooded. The surge of flood water flowing down undermines one of the Skerton Bridge arches; which is further damaged by debris being carried down the river on the flood water. As a result of the floods the central arch has been deemed to be unsound and ready to collapse, and the bridge has to be closed immediately due to safety concerns.

The challenge has 3 aspects all of which must be completed. Costain has been contacted by Lancashire County Council (LCC) to assist in dealing with the immediate impact of the loss of the bridge in Lancaster, and then to propose a longer term option to replace and/or repair the bridge. A traffic system will have to be developed to manage the immediate impact and short term solution following the event whilst the longer term option is developed.

1.    The longer term option that is developed must include an outline budget on how much it would cost to implement, and an estimation on how long it would take to implement.

2.    The proposal must take consideration the impact on the local community, stakeholders and interested parties immediately following the event and when proposing the longer term option.

3.    You have been selected by Costain to come up with a fully-supported proposal to address the different aspects that LCC have requested assistance with.

•    Lancaster is a historical city based on the banks of the River Lune which means that the existing roads in the historic part of the city are old and space is limited. Due to the volume of traffic travelling through Lancaster on a daily basis, both from commuters and tourists to the city, and the limited space a one-way system is in operation in Lancaster.
•    Heysham and Morecambe Peninsula is separated from Lancaster by the River Lune, and currently between the M6 and the sea there are only 2 bridges to take the vehicular traffic.
•    The M6 motorway passes to the east of Lancaster, with junctions 33 and 34 to the south and north respectively. The A6 road passes through the city leading southwards to Preston, Chorley and Manchester and northwards to Carnforth, Kendal, Penrith and Carlisle.
•    The A6 is one of the main historic north south roads in England. It currently runs from Luton in Bedfordshire to Carlisle in Cumbria. The road passes through Lancaster giving access to nearby towns such as Carnforth, Kendal and Garstang.
•    Lancaster is served by the West Coast Main Line which runs through Lancaster railway station. This station was formerly named Lancaster Castle railway station in order to differentiate it from Lancaster Green Ayre railway station on the Leeds–Morecambe line, which closed in 1966. The Caton–Morecambe section of this railway is now used as a cycle path.
•    The main bus operator in Lancaster is Stagecoach, which operates over thirty services in Lancaster and Morecambe as well as frequent services in Lancashire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester and services throughout the North West of England.
•    The Lancaster Canal and River Lune also pass through the city. The nearest airport is Blackpool International, some 21 miles (34 kilometres) away.
•    In 2005, Lancaster was one of six English towns chosen to be cycling demonstration towns to promote the use of cycling as a means of transport
•    It was designed by Thomas Harrison as his first commission after winning a design competition and was completed in 1787. The bridge is designated by English Heritage as a Grade II* listed building.
•    The bridge is constructed in sandstone ashlar. It consists of five semi-elliptical arches with piers that are articulated by aedicules formed by attached Tuscan columns supporting pediments; it has a balustraded parapet.
•    The semi-elliptical arches allow it to have a flat road deck. Each of the five original arches spans 64 feet (19.5 m), and the deck between the parapets is 33 feet (10.1 m) wide. There are stormwater channels in the spandrels between the arches and at the abutments.
•    There are currently major infrastructure projects being undertaken in Lancaster that will have an impact on the local road network. One is the construction of the Heysham to M6 Link being built by Costain working in partnership with Lancashire County Council. The others are being carried out by United Utilities to improve their local sewerage network.

The challenge for FLUX 2014 includes a set of primary criteria that need to be included in your solution which are:

•    Has a traffic diversion route been developed that takes into consideration the one-way system that is currently in operation and any existing road restrictions, the different modes of transport, and the potential impact on the local community?
•    Have all the different stakeholders that would be impacted been identified both the local and wider community? Then for each stakeholder group have you considered what they would need to know, how you would keep them informed and how often?
•    Has a proposal for the longer term option been fully developed taking into account that the bridge is a Grade II listed building and the restrictions this could bring to a solution? Is the proposal innovative and sustainable, and have potential benefits to Lancaster and the surrounding area been considered?
•    For the longer term option has an outline budget and a timescale of how long it would take been included and the reasoning behind these?
Note: You can assume for the sake of the challenge that the bridge has been made safe, and your long term option does not necessarily need any detailed designs.

FLUX 2014 Judges will use a set of secondary criteria to evaluate each proposal that they review in more detail and these are laid out below:

Strategic Fit
•    Is the long term solution innovative, inspiring and sustainable without creating further issues in the future?
•    Does the longer term solution fit within the overall forward strategy of Lancaster?
•    Does it provide a significant and definable competitive advantage for the city, ie would it support the encouragement of tourists?
•    Does the solution fit, support and promote the image of Lancaster?

Product and Operations
•    Is the traffic diversion route feasible and has consideration been given to the different modes of transport?
•    Does the technology and knowledge to implement the proposal already exist?
•    Has the longer term option been used successfully elsewhere?
•    Is the stakeholder plan comprehensive and has consideration been given to identifying all the different parties that would be impacted or interested?
 
People and Organisation
•    Does the team have the right members and do they have, or can they access, the appropriate skills to make the proposal a success?

Marketing
•    Is there a defined and comprehensive stakeholder communication plan?
•    Has consideration been given to what the potential benefits would be from the longer term solution to the city?
•    Does the option compete with or complement any other existing plans or existing assets within Lancaster?

Financial
•    What level of funding would be required for the long term solution?

Risks
•    Have all major risks to the different elements been identified?