#DigitalReboot InnovateIT – What’s Your Idea?

Maisie Galea, University of Kent Hub Innovation & Enterprise Administrator

On the 13th February 2019 SAGA, an insurance company which started 65 years ago in a small hotel in Folkestone, that has now become the leading provider of products and services for people over the age of 65 engaged with the University of Kent’s Hub for Innovation & enterprise through its #InnovateIT competition via its #DigitalReboot programme, supported by Santander Universities

A launch event was held on the 13th February 2019 where Saga colleagues gave an overview of the business and the challenge at hand.  Hub Business Advisor, Paul Swaddle OBE of Pocket APP, gave an insight into how tech is currently developing and how it’s being adopted by industry at present.

Students attending the launch event

“The Challenge proposed by SAGA is how to make sure that their customers can begin to use the latest emerging technology to engage with their insurance policies in a way that compliments the main business channels (telephone and website) that they employ. They encouraged students to consider how they could employ cutting edge consumer technology (such as the emerging tech in voice assistant, virtual reality and artificial intelligence) to augment and improve the overall experience of their insurance customers?”

They offered a £600 prize to the student individual or team who could come up with the most innovative way of using the tech of tomorrow.

Students attending the launch event

Students were then given 23 days to think, mind map and research their selected tech. The ideas proposed covered a wide spectrum which really impressed the judges, who had the incredibly difficult task of narrowing down to three, lucky finalists.

On the 27th March ‘19 judges Emily Gardener, Leanne Brown and Simon Godfrey of SAGA, Paul Swaddle of Pocket APP and Kevin Bardwell of Santander Universities,  gathered in the Canterbury Innovation Centre, ready to make the final judgement.

Judging panel for the final competition

 The three finalists teams included Hazim Abdusada & Huma Razzaq, Rebecca Humphries and Teniola Etti, who were equipped with a ten minute pitch waited for their chance to convince the judges.

Huma Razzaq giving her presentation

All the finalists were calm and confident and did exceedingly well at presenting their ideas. What was clear, after the pitches, was that the judges had a hard decision to make.

The finalists, after patiently waiting, were brought back into the conference room together, and before the results, a quick announcement made that due to the exceptional calibre of entry, both runners up would also receive £100 of vouchers each.

Judges discussing contestant’s presentations

After the announcement was made, the now (admittedly) more giddy finalists waited with anticipation as the judges began announcing the results by reading the feedback of each.

The results started with runners up… Huma and Hazim and Rebecca.

Left to Right: Huma Razzaq, Rebecca Humphries & Hazim Abdusada

Leaving the winner, of £600 of Amazon Vouchers, as Teniola Etti, whose idea had convinced the judges that his tech was credible, possible and the most impactful submission.

Tenoila Etti with judge

Certificates and prizes were handed out, interviews and pictures were taken and congratulations were in order. The finalists all did very well and all were true entrepreneurs.

When asked about their experience the finalists commented,   that they would… 

“Definitely recommend this experience to students in the future and how they had all learnt skills and even learnt things about themselves during this experience”

Our thanks to the work of the finalists, SAGA, Santander Universities and the University of Kent.


-Maisie Galea

Kent Hub for Innovation and Enterprise Administrator


Group picture of contestants, SAGA employers and judges  

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