“The future will either be green or not at all”
–Bob Brown (Australian environmentalist and politician)
Echoing the erudite environmentalist’s words, Santander Cycles introduced a unique competition for the universities in the UK for launching the best cycle scheme that will be implemented for the development of community and for encouraging people to stay fit and healthy. The competition was kicked off early this year, and the universities in the UK battled it out amongst themselves to reach the top two spots that promised a lucrative grant as starting capital for the schemes in their respective neighbourhoods. Here is a quick overview of the yearlong competition and what it brings for the benefit of all.
Santander Universities – Spreading Hope through Education and Enlightenment
The Santander Cycles University Competition is an initiative of Santander Universities, an association of university partners who work together to provide scholarships and study grants, mobility awards, and entrepreneurship funding for taking forward the beacon of higher studies and community development through universities. The role that the universities play in the betterment of communities and the way they touch the lives of millions of people all across the globe are the essential seeds of ideas that gave rise to the organisation named Santander Universities in Spain in 1996. Since then, the organisation has actively taken part in various community development activities through more than 1200 university partners situated in over 20 countries. Santander Universities has been associated with the universities in the UK since 2007 and has over 81 partner universities in the country. The organisation has since then sanctioned and administered funds amounting to more than £10 million for supporting the university staff and students in the UK.
Santander Cycles University Competition – Key Facts
Santander has long been a known name in the cycle scheme realm in the UK since the inception of the London Cycle Hire Scheme in 2015. This year, the cycling scheme comes back with a bang involving the universities in the UK to join a unique competition and a lucrative funding opportunity that awaits the top two spot holders. Here is the unique contest, its participants, and the format at a glance.
- Launched in 2017, the Santander Cycles University Competition had 25 universities as the participants in the UK
- It is a team-based competition with each team from the participating universities having one member of the management within the university and at least two team members (current students of the respective universities)
- The objective of the competition was to design a cycle scheme for the places where the respective universities are situated in as well as present plans for its installation, operations and sustenance
- The teams from all the participating universities were given the opportunity to take part in two sets of workshops on designing and preparing a report for the cycle scheme in their areas that included guidelines on the report as well as the delineation of each of the categories that the teams had to keep in mind for their design
- The competition is designed into two parts in alliance with the categories of funding a cycle scheme requires – operational costs and capital funding
- In the first phase of the competition, coaching and consultancy partners of Santander Universities were involved in helping the teams design the cycle hire scheme suited to the needs of their areas
- In the second phase of the competition, the teams had to reach the set target of operational costs through crowdfunding campaigns
- The two teams that reach their target of obtaining resources for operational costs through their crowdfunding schemes will be awarded the prize of the capital costs for setting up the cycle scheme that they designed for their area
- The competition ran through the entirety of 2017, coming to a close on the first week of December as the crowdfunding deadline for all the teams were up.
Benefitting the communities, Santander Cycles University Competition was a resounding success in all, adding more reasons to celebrate the New Year in style and doing our bit to contribute towards a green future for all.
The finalists and phases of the Santander cycle scheme competition
The competition was divided into two phases – the marketing plans and design phase and the crowdfunding phase. From the initial 25, five teams were chosen as the finalists for the launch year of the competition. Partnering with nextbike and Crowdfunder, the judgement criteria for the first phase of the completion involved the following factors.
- Phase 1 – Feasibility and Marketing Plans
The first phase of the competition involved laying out a detailed design and plan for a cycle scheme including the complete financial structure and operational planning for giving fruition to the ideas. This phase, running from February to May of this year, also included two face-to-face workshops with three locations in the UK that were open for all the participating teams to take part in. The judgement panel of this phase looked for the following criteria among the submissions of a cycle scheme by the 25 teams from the universities in the UK.
- A detailed proposal for a cycle scheme that has been drawn up keeping in mind the environmental and community benefits of the area along with the detailed size and mapping study
- A precise financial framework or model that clearly states the capital costs required and the operational costs that will be incurred in the proposed cycle scheme
- A crowdfunding plan in detail that includes the marketing strategy, defining the user groups and the ideas to raise the necessary funds
- A viability model for the crowdfunding campaign that includes potential audience size and the average pledge and conversion rates
The teams from the five universities in the UK that made it to the final phase of the cycle scheme competition with their impressive cycle scheme layout and financial planning are the Universities of Surrey, Portsmouth, Birmingham, Swansea, and Brunel University London.
Phase 2 of the competition involved crowdfunding with the teams from the five universities racing to collect as much funds that they could against the set target of their operational costs, on securing which, they will be eligible for the top two spots reserved for the winners of the competition. The target for each university was the operational costs that they designed while submitting their cycle scheme proposal in the first phase and they had to collect the funds through crowdfunding activities in their respective communities. In this phase, each of the teams was assigned a crowdfunding coach who guided them about the marketing, promotions, and preparations for collecting the funds from the community. The top two teams who were able to reach the highest percentage of the target of their operational costs were declared the winners of this phase. To make it a fair competition for the universities of varying sizes and infrastructural framework, the target was set as per the plans that the teams had submitted in the first phase instead of a universal one.
The winner takes it all
The winners of the cycle scheme competition organised by Santander Universities will be eligible for the cash prize of the capital costs needed to set up their proposed schemes in the community. In addition to that, they will get to keep the crowdfunding money pledged for their local cycle scheme as the operational costs to get it working in their area with ease. The bottom three teams from the top five will not be able to keep any of the crowdfunding money that has been pledged to them for the cycle scheme competition. Using the capital costs as funded by Santander Universities in association with nextbike and Crowdfunder, the winning teams will then be able to introduce the cycle hire scheme for their localities and benefit the entire community from it as well as keeping the scheme running with the operational costs that they collected from their successful crowdfunding campaigns.
Why the initiative is a win-win for all
Appealing to the need for a greener future with reduced greenhouse gas emission, the cycle scheme competition organised by Santander Universities has successfully brought about benefits for the entire community and not only the students from the universities that participated in the competition. Here is a look at why the competition was more than just a race between a few universities vying for a lucrative prize money.
- Ensuring that the proposed cycle scheme will be taking many cars off the road inside and outside the university campuses, the competition has opened avenues towards reduced carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions
- The universities also had the chance to involve the local community in their activities for designing the cycle scheme that will also be a part of their lives when brought to fruition
- Focusing on the efforts of the universities in making it a greener and more convenient world for all, the students from the countries overseas might wish to join the institution to be a part of the green campus initiative as well as for the obvious convenience of commute that a cycle hire scheme brings for them
- The cycle hire scheme will also be beneficial to do away with parking issues and congested traffic woes in the areas during peak hours, clearing up traffic and making commute as much as two times faster
- The cycle hire scheme will also open up avenues for further research in the area in multiple disciplines that can use the data created for innovating in the fields of sustainable development, healthcare, transport, and urban development planning
Providing a refreshing look at the way competitions can be designed for bringing about development for the community, the Santander Cycles University Competition involved many students from the universities all around the UK, creating awareness about the benefits of cycling for health and the environment. The competition was a roaring success and showed the way for many such competitions that can focus on community development in the years to come.
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