Students at Sheffield Hallam have developed the outline for an app that could revolutionise the way takeaway food is ordered online.
The group of 11 business analytics students have worked with Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council to develop the concept for an app that could enable a group of people visiting the Market Kitchen food hall in Barnsley to order meals from different restaurants and all those meals arrive at the same time.
Dr. Roy Woodhead, senior lecturer in digital innovation and business analytics course leader, said: “What’s exciting is that once the app is built it can be cloned easily, like a ‘cookie cutter’ stamping out new biscuits, for very low cost and used in other towns and cities around the world.
“This could be worth a lot of money given that similar platforms cannot do what this app promises to deliver.”
The concept for the app was developed after the group of students conducted a detailed business analysis of the town centre using various complex tools to assess the environment, customer need and the potential for digital innovation.
They presented their findings via a video conference, due to the current coronavirus lockdown, to council officers and commercial software developers and it is now hoped a commercial developer will use the students’ research and analysis to take forward the development of the app.
The opportunity came about thanks to a new partnership between the University’s Venture Matrix scheme, which allows students to put their theory into practice through real life community advancement projects and the local authority’s Economic Regeneration Team and the Digital Media Centre (DMC) - Barnsley’s hub for digital business development.
Maria Cotton, from Barnsley Council’s Economic Regeneration Team said: “Incorporating digital innovation into the development of Barnsley is core to our vision and we were delighted to involve the students at Sheffield Hallam in this project.”
“Their report has given us plenty of detailed analysis and food for thought which the town centre team and commercial developers will now consider.”
Tracey Johnson, manager of the DMC, said: “This is the first time we’ve collaborated with Sheffield Hallam in this way and the students have done a great job and given us some fantastic analysis and plenty of ideas about how we can use data to encourage visitors and support growth in our town centre economy.”
Roy said: “I hope this exercise could be a blueprint for new and different kinds of relationship between our university and organisations across South Yorkshire.
“It’s what applied learning is all about, enabling the students to engage with real life businesses in a task which benefits both them and the business communities they interact with.”
Both the University and Barnsley Council hope to repeat the exercise with different projects and a different group of students next year.
Sheffield Hallam University is also a higher education partner of Barnsley’s DMC, which supports a growing community of innovative digital enterprises in the town.
Tracey said: “The DMC is not just a Barnsley-based business centre providing a stimulating environment for small businesses – it’s an outward-looking digital ecosystem committed to developing relationships with key partners like Sheffield Hallam University.
‘Working with students who are at the very start of their careers in IT innovation is a great way to encourage and support new creative talent and make connections for the future.”