The SIFE team celebrate their victory

Exeter SIFE Team awarded Rookie Champion

Enterprising students from the University of Exeter have returned victorious as the Rookie Champions at the 2012 annual Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) competition at Canary Wharf, London on 18-19 April.

SIFE is a not-for-profit global organisation that works to mobilise university students to manage projects that make a difference within their communities while developing their skills to become socially responsible leaders.

48 university teams competed in the 2012 SIFE competition with 38 teams progressing through the regional rounds to the national competition to showcase their projects to a board of over 50 business professionals.

Established in October 2011, SIFE Exeter is currently managing eleven projects across the Exeter and Cornwall campuses with 119 team members including students from Humanities, Life Sciences, Engineering and Business. As the only new team to be selected to compete in the opening round of the national competition, they were pitched against established teams that had been running projects for many years.

The Exeter team won three accolades for their SIFE projects, which where presented to a judging panel of business experts. 

  • Rookie Champion Cup
  • Joint runner-up in the Wilkinson Sustainable Entrepreneurship Award
  • Third in the Bernard Hodes Group Annual Report Award

SIFE Exeter President Cornwall Campus, Samantha Suthurst said "Taking part in and leading SIFE Exeter has been an amazing experience; I have been lucky enough to watch it grow from an idea in a stuffy seminar room to reality. There aren't words to describe how proud we all are of the achievements of each of our 119 active members. SIFE provides an opportunity to take our university education to a new and exciting level; there aren't many students leaving university who can sy they've managed a team of 119 people with a distance of one hundred miles between bases of operation! Not only does it develop a diverse and impressive skill set, it also gives you a chance to make a real, sustainable difference to people's lives and I feel that having the competition at the end to aim for really helps you focus on having a real impact."

Antonia Coppen, a university advisor for the SIFE Exeter Team commented “This is a fantastic achievement for the team and the advisors at both the Cornwall and Exeter campuses are immensely proud of the hard work, determination and professionalism the students have shown in both managing the projects and presenting them at the competition. This will prove invaluable experience to take with them into their future careers. The achievement is all the more impressive when you consider our young team has only been running for just over 6 months. The bar has been set now and many of the SIFE judges will be looking to Exeter to see what we are able to achieve next year.”

The 2012 SIFE Adviser Award for the South Region was also awarded to the University of Exeter advisers, Alan Booth, Antonia Coppen and Laura Bonner at the national competition.

Alan Booth pointed out “SIFE is a wonderful movement. The descriptions of projects to help the disadvantaged both in the UK and, more especially, in the developing world brought a lump to my throat. For the recently-formed Exeter team to have done so very well in that context was a massive achievement. It has really been a great privilege to see them grow so confidently and enthusiastically into an efficient team with an enormous desire to make a difference to the world in which they live. I was enormously heartened both by our students’ performance and what the wider organisation has already achieved.”

SIFE Exeter Vice President (Exeter Campuses), Rishit Radia said “When we were given the title of Rookie Champions, all of us representing SIFE Exeter were overjoyed. If it wasn't for our 119 active, hardworking and passionate members, we could not have reached such a level. Being part of SIFE, the amount of skills one can learn is unimaginable - from tackling problems in our global community through social enterprise, to project leading and working in teams. Be it working with the elderly, providing consultancy to struggling businesses and turning waste oil into Biodiesel, the list is endless. Our 11 projects are really diverse and tackle unique needs. Being a SIFE member gives one the skill set required to step into the working world”.    

SIFE Exeter Vice President Exeter Campuses, Jessica Drew commented "For me it was a huge achievement just to be the only new team in the main category of the competition, but then to get recognition for all the hard work every single one of our members and advisers has put in through these awards is just amazing. Being part of SIFE Exeter this year has really made me realise my potential outside of my degree and enhanced my university experience enormously. I feel very confident in the future of SIFE Exeter as I’m leaving the society in very capable hands as I’m graduating, and we have many of our projects on the brink of launching. Next year will be a very exciting year - and I hope to see Exeter holding the overall winners trophy and jetting off to the World Cup!"

The SIFE competition runs in over 39 countries worldwide. SIFE UK has been established for 10 years with an estimated 2,500 university students taking part in the programme each year, making it the largest university enterprise competition in the UK. The 2012 winners will represent their country in the SIFE World Cup, taking place in Washington DC in October.

Date: 11 May 2012