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Ford Fund encourages students to think smart

Working with partner universities, the Ford Fund is inviting students to devise sustainable, realistic and affordable urban mobility solutions that make a difference to society.

Britain’s Loughborough University is the first to take part in the Ford Fund Smart Mobility Challenge, with RWTH Aachen University in Germany following shortly.

The competition aims to develop initiatives that overcome obstacles to daily mobility, help people and goods move easily, safely and securely, encourage active mobility, connect communities together, and provide more efficient energy opportunities.

“I think this a great opportunity to engage some really talented people who look at the world in a different way, and support their fresh ideas to make people’s lives better through access to sustainable mobility solutions,” said David Skipp of Ford Smart Mobility.

The initiative is open to students at Loughborough’s Design School, and is part of an ongoing partnership between the University and Ford Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company.

“This is a great project for our students. They’ll be developing a range of new skills, and will learn more about business and enterprise too. Not only will they providing a solution to a problem, but also something that will probably be making a real difference, and I think that will really motivate them throughout,” added Dr Val Mitchell, a senior lecturer based within the Loughborough Design School.

Ford Fund will provide £22,500 of funding to support competitors, who will work in small teams to submit their proposals in April of 2019. The proposals will be judged by Ford and the University, together with community representatives.

Three teams will progress as finalists, each being awarded £5,000 to support the initial stages of project implementation. The overall winning team will receive an extra £7,500 to follow through with its proposal.

“At Ford, we’re all about making people’s lives better through innovation and access, so we really thought this would be a lovely way of helping the community through the lens of mobility by engaging the students in something that is fun and creative,” commented Debbie Chennells, Ford Fund Manager, Ford of Europe.

Ford Fund has supported a number of projects at Loughborough over the past six years, including Formula Student, an international, extracurricular activity where students design, build and race their own racing car.

Ford also has provided Blue Oval Scholarships to 14 students across the institution, who have each received £10,000 in financial support annually during their degree programme.

“As we look into the future, our cities and the way people and goods move from A to B will change. Both myself and my fellow students are excited about the opportunity to start designing innovative solutions to address this problem. Furthermore, the potential of funding at the end of the project, provided by Ford, could make these ideas a reality.”


Bish Clow

final year Product Design and Technology student, Loughborough University