ESSA, run jointly by RBS and Find Invest Grow (FIG), a venture capital firm focusing on the student and recent graduate market, aims to reward and recognise the innovative skills involved in running a successful student society. The 2013 competition attracted 140 entries from universities across the UK.
Solar powered cars
The top prize of £10,000 and coveted title of ‘most enterprising student society’ went to University of Cambridge Eco Racing. The student-led organisation, which has an annual turnover of around £500,000, designs, builds and races solar powered vehicles. The team, which is attempting to win the World Solar Challenge (a 3,000km race across Australia), aims to promote sustainable technology and the raise the profile of women in engineering.
Other winners included University of Glasgow society Salsa4water who picked up Most Innovative Fundraising activity, and were awarded £6,000. The 1,900-strong club teaches salsa, breakdancing and language classes to raise money for the charity WaterAid and has been successful in winning an ESSA award two years running. It used prize money won in last year’s RBS ESSA awards to create a platform so the concept can be franchised and translated to any university in the world.
Student societies are the perfect “dry run” of managing a business: committee members must seek sponsorship, market to new members, manage large budgets and hold events.
The RBS ESSA rewards these enterprising activities across all societies, helping students obtain a competitive edge and boost their CVs. Workshops to help foster and further develop enterprise skills are held on campus as part of the scheme.
James King, Director of Find Invest Grow, said: “The awards celebrate the incredible and diverse activities carried out by student societies across the country and we were blown away with the quality of the entrants this year. It’s also fantastic to see how societies have evolved over the past year.
“With the employment landscape becoming increasingly competitive, it is more important than ever to recognise and reward the achievements of the UK’s most enterprising students.”
Mike Maddick, Head of Early Careers at The Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “It was fantastic to see such a wide variety of applicants, and the standard was immensely high. The RBS ESSA recognises the entrepreneurial talent of university students, who may not even realise how enterprising they are before they take part in this competition. We are delighted to support and recognise such an array of talent across the country.”
To enter the awards, student societies have to apply for accreditation first, demonstrating the events and activities carried out, membership numbers and turnover. In 2012-2013 more than 440 societies were accredited under the unique scheme.
Once a society has been accredited, they are eligible to enter into the RBS ESSA Awards – Bronze, Silver or Gold – depending on their level of enterprising activity to compete for a share of the £61,000 prize fund. Individual societies are eligible to win up to £21,000.
For more information visit the ESSA website