Aston hosts National Apprentice Challenge final

National Apprentice Challenge

10 April 2015

Entrepreneurial Aston students who competed in the UK’s largest student enterprise competition were praised for their efforts by a panel of judges. 

Four Chemical Engineering students took part in the National Apprentice Challenge 2015, ran by The Centre for Applied Learning, which was hosted at Aston University. The annual competition brings together up to 100 of the country’s brightest and most ambitious students to vie against one another in a series of practical business tasks. 

On day one of the Challenge, the 19 participating teams were asked to create a business concept for the next social platform to challenge the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

After developing their business model, the teams had to pitch a proposal to an experienced set of judges from MassChallenge, a global business accelerator that supports early start-up companies. The Aston team, made up of Anushka Jain, Arihant Jai, Nooryesha Choudry and Sandra Cheriyamkunnel were singled out by the judges for their application, hard work and confident presentation. 

For the second task, the students were required to strategically design a marketing campaign plan for Grant Thornton in Bolivia. Grant Thornton is one of the world’s largest professional services firm with offices in over 125 countries. A senior executive from Grant Thornton Bolivia addressed the competition via Skype, discussing business opportunities in the country and providing information about its current economic landscape. 

Project Manager of the Aston-led BSEEN (Birmingham Skills for Enterprise and Employability Network) programme, Carolyn Keenan, said: “It has been a real pleasure to host the National Apprentice Challenge at Aston University. NAC has gone from strength to strength since it started with support from BSEEN in 2012. BSEEN is the flagship start-up programme led by Aston University which supports students and graduates. We look forward to working with the National Apprentice Challenge again in future.” 

The standard of competition was so high that all National Apprentice Challenge participants, including the Aston students, have been automatically fast tracked to Grant Thornton UK’s paid Future Leaders internship programme.  They also have an opportunity to receive paid summer internships with Grant Thornton in Bolivia and implement the marketing plan they developed. 

Simona Popa, Co-founder and Director of the National Apprentice Challenge, said: “We were impressed with the high calibre of the students that applied this year and with the involvement of all our partnering universities in supporting them to take part in National Apprentice Challenge. We are delighted to see Aston University at the forefront of supporting student entrepreneurship and it was a pleasure collaborating with Aston Trading and Investment Society on the day. 

“Empowering entrepreneurial students through practical educational programmes is the main aim of the Centre for Applied Learning and we look forward to expanding our work internationally in 2015”  said Simona Popa and Sep Eslahi, Co-Founders of Centre for Applied Learning.” 

The overall winners of the National Apprentice Challenge 2015 were a team of masters students from the University of Cranfield. They were awarded £1,000 and business mentorship. 


Notes to Editors 

BSEEN is a business start-up programme and collaboration between Aston University, Birmingham City University and the University of Birmingham. 

The BSEEN project is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit