The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has scooped two awards at a prestigious educational event.

The institution won the Business/Industry Collaboration – University Sector and Research Project of the Year trophies at the 2019 Educate North Awards.

In addition, a UCLan graduate won the 2019 University Entrepreneurs Grant, which rewards start-up businesses with a kick-start grant of £1,000.

Developing Futures: A UCLan and St Catherine’s Hospice Collaboration took the Business/Industry Collaboration prize. The partnership has seen the two institutions experiment with collaborating on new skills for a next-generation workforce. This has involved utilising student-tutor-industry relationships to develop new capabilities and improving the knowledge base and skills of future graduates in addition to fostering economic competitiveness for St Catherine’s Hospice.

Examples of the work already undertaken include a research project looking at the future of hospice care in the area, to ensure it will meet the needs of patients and families in the long-term; retail management students visiting an international trade show with St Catherine’s trading team to discuss ranges with suppliers; and software development students creating a route planner for St Catherine’s furniture delivery and collection volunteers that would ensure the most efficient route is taken.

Project Manager Matthew Roberts said: “It’s fantastic to win this award, it represents lots of hard work and collaboration between the hospice and staff across the University. We’re very proud to work with St Catherine’s and what we have achieved together, this recognition will help drive us to continue to grow this partnership.”

Cheryl Gordon, Senior Lecturer in Retail Management, added: “This celebrates the diverse interdisciplinary collaborations being developed within an important partnership, which we will continue to build upon in the future.”

Stories2Connect claimed the Research Project of the Year trophy. The innovative project, which was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, began with a problem identified by young people with disabilities and/or experiences of the care system who accessed a young researchers’ group run by UCLan. They wanted disadvantaged young people like themselves to tell their stories to inform and educate the general public and professionals.

Their stories would challenge stigmas associated with being on benefits, having learning difficulties or disabilities, and being in care. Research partners included academics from three universities, Barnardo’s workers and young people, two well-known children’s authors, community writers and illustrators, and students from a range of subjects.

The team collected stories through peer interviews with disadvantaged young people; co-created fictionalised stories to represent their perspectives; and co-designed story-telling machines so that their stories could be told in new and exciting digital ways, as films as well as storybooks, to have impact on a wide range of audiences.

Dr Candice Satchwell, Reader in Education and Literacies and Principal Investigator of Stories2Connect’, commented: “It’s wonderful that Stories2Connect has won the Research Project of the Year Award. It’s a great endorsement of our collaborative work with Barnardo’s, disadvantaged young people, researchers and students. Thanks to UCLan for facilitating and supporting these connections, giving young people a chance to tell their stories.”

Dave Clayton, who has completed BA (Hons) Community Leadership and MA Business Management at UCLan, won the University Entrepreneurs Grant for his interactive video designed for upskilling young people on sex education called Wot Wud U Do? The video presents choices for the audience to interact with, similar to the recent Netflix sensation ‘Bandersnatch’, and presents the consequences of their actions in an informative and engaging way. The budding entrepreneur was mentored by UCLan’s business support unit, Propeller.

Dave said: “It feels amazing, I don’t quite know what happened, but I woke up this morning with a cheque for £1,000 and a trophy. I met quite a few people who have offered to help with my business. I will be using the money to finish off my resource, develop a new section of the website focusing on LGBTQ issues and to develop a handbook for teachers and tutors using my product with their students.”

The awards, which are a celebration of excellence and best practice in the education sector in the North, were judged by a panel of leading industry professionals and experts. This year’s ceremony took place at the Hilton Deansgate, in Manchester, on 25 April.