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SETsquared students win national competition with what could be ‘next big app’

SETsquared students win national competition with what could be ‘next big app’
  •  SETsquared students win UK final of Microsoft Imagine Cup
  •  Youngsters have already secured £10,000 investment for their app

A group of university students have potentially created the ‘next big app’ after complaining about the volume of music playing from their mobile phones.

The students, who go by the company name of colinked ltd, have created an app, SoundSYNK, which uses bluetooth technology to link together an unlimited number of mobile phones and stream the same song in perfect timing, effectively creating a symphony of speakers. 

The youngsters, from the University of Exeter, came up with the idea by chance while they were taking part in the regional heat of an app developing competition, The Microsoft Imagine Cup, run by SETsquared in conjunction with OpenMIC and the University of Exeter Students’ Guild. 

They couldn’t decide what kind of app to create during the 48-hour ‘hackathon’ so put some music on their mobile phones and took a break. 

It was then that the penny dropped and the group set about creating the app. 

They won the regional competition and were given intensive training by SETsquared to help them turn their idea into something that could be a profitable business. 

SETsquared, a partnership of universities which collaborates in enterprise activity, believed in the students so much that it gave them business mentoring through its partners and even put them in touch with former Dragon’s Den investor, Doug Richards for one-to-one advice. Among the others who supported the youngsters were the Exeter Innovation Centre, Exeter Students’ Guild, the OpenMIC network and technology companies Opposable Games and Applingua. As a result of the mentoring, the students bid for and successfully won a £10,000 grant from Creative England. 

Yesterday (April 8) the students had another reason to celebrate as they won the national finals of the Microsoft Imagine Cup with their app. They will go on to the national finals in Russia where they could win $50,000.

SETsquared’s partnership director, Graham Harrison, said: “We had great belief in SoundSYNK from the outset. They had a great idea and, with our guidance, have turned it into what could be potentially a highly-profitable business with a sustainable future. 

“Anyone can build an app to a certain degree, but turning it into a successful business, as these students have done, and making the most of the UK’s booming app market is another thing entirely.”

Edward Noel, one of the SoundSYNK team, said: “We are absolutely ecstatic. Representing the UK is an honor and we are going to do everything we can to win in Russia. We are extremely proud to represent The University of Exeter and SETsquared and even prouder that teams from those establishments came both first and second in the competition.”

Tracy Costello, Deputy Chief Executive of the University of Exeter Students’ Guild, said: “The students’ success is a testimony to the entrepreneurship, commitment and talent of our students, and the quality of their support mechanisms. The teams came together and created their initial ideas at a weekend appathon hosted by the Guild’s new entrepreneur support unit, IGNITE. Particular thanks goes to the innovation centre at the University of Exeter and SETsquared for their specialist support.”

Natasha Joseph, from the Microsoft Imagine Cup, said: “The progress SoundSYNK has made has been incredible. When I first met them they hardly knew each other and within 48 hours they’d created an amazing idea. It was clear when they won the regional finals that they were real contenders for the top spot and their pitch presentation yesterday put them head and shoulders above the rest. I can’t wait for them to represent the UK in Russia.”

Another SETsquared and University of Exeter team, Ticklo, scored highly in the competition. The students, whose app was based around technology for the education sector, won the World Citizen category and came second overall. 

Helping people turn ideas into profitable business is a key part of SETsquared’s work. A not-for-profit partnership, it supports university research ‘spin outs’, student enterprises as well as early-stage technology companies with high growth potential from the wider business community.

Among the app development and assistive technology companies it is currently helping through its incubation centres are:

  • Brain-in-Hand – which has developed assistive technology to help people who have impaired executive function of the brain to live independent lives
  • Bardowl – which streams unlimited audiobooks to iPhones
  • Opposable Games – which designs and develops games for mobile devices and the web 

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