Young Blood
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15 March 2017, by , in News, No comments

In the fast-moving world of business, appointing a team of creative designers likely to still be in bed at midday, sounds like a challenge.

But global brands, from the BBC and Aviva, to hipster start-up The Craft Brewing Company Ltd have commissioned students at Norwich University of the Arts’ (NUA) Ideas Factory@NUA to come up with a range of creative branding and design solutions.  This is an exciting opportunity open to businesses in the Eastern Region.

And guess what?  The students kick-off at 9.00 am, like the rest of us.

We spoke to Catherine Hill the Business & Enterprise Administrator at Ideas Factory@NUA  to find out what makes their service a real benefit to business.


Emma:  What is the IdeasFactory@NUA and why was it created?

Catherine:  It is essentially two entities.  First, a building in central Norwich, which is part of NUA, developed as an incubation space for start-up creative businesses and NUA alumni.  It is also the name of our creative consultancy service for businesses, delivered by students.  This provides students on our courses with practical experience of taking on commissions and delivering for clients.

Emma:  To focus on the creative consultancy, Ideas Factory@NUA is based in Norwich.  Can businesses across the East work with you?

Catherine:  Absolutely.  We look forward to working with businesses from across the Eastern Region.

Emma:  So, what services does it provide?

Catherine:  We provide a range of services, each of which relates to a course.  This means everything from re-branding to film, animation, games design and even pieces of art and sculpture commissioned for clients.  The students work under close supervision from course tutors, or myself and Sarah Steed, the Business Director.

Emma: What are the benefits to business commissioning you?

Catherine:  Through our students, business can access a range of fresh, new ideas from the one brief.  They also have the opportunity of working with up-and-coming talent and supporting the students’ journey into the world of work. Clients will often see the students’ knowledge and confidence grow and develop, which is really satisfying.

 Emma:  What is the process?

Catherine:  First of all we meet with the business to clarify their brief.  We then identify which course is best suited to delivering the commission.  So, for example, in the case of a re-brand it would be the graphic design course and we would see how the work would be scheduled into the course work.

Up to 60 students on a course working in small groups will be tasked with coming up with ideas to meet the brief, working under the supervision of the course tutors.  The student groups then pitch their ideas to the client who chooses the best idea to develop.  It is then completed by the student group and presented to the client.

 Emma:  Are there any other ways you work with clients?

Catherine:  Another approach, which is more of a design agency method of working, is for myself and Sarah Steed, the Business Director, to work as Creative Directors overseeing the project.   Once we have the brief we ask individual students to pitch for the work and would appoint a student as a paid intern to undertake the project.   Sarah and I will then oversee the creative process and supervision of the student ourselves, which is often a faster process.

Emma:  Do you charge businesses?   If so, how is it costed?

Catherine:  Although there is little or no profit to NUA we do charge businesses because there are costs involved in our time and the materials used.  The costs are likely to be similar to those charged by a professional agency.

Emma:  We all know that businesses work to short deadlines, so how can students deliver within a tight time frame?

Catherine:  When it’s a short deadline we would employ students as paid interns to take on the commission.  If there were no students available at the time, which can sometimes happen during the holidays, we would direct them to the start-up creative businesses based in The Ideas Factory@NUA building.

Emma:  What recent pieces of work have the students undertaken, that you’re most proud of?

Catherine:  Our students have created a brand and website for the Broads Landscape Authority called Water, Mills and Marshes which will launch in the next few months.  The aim of the commission is to reconnect the people of Norfolk with the Broads.

A student also created a fantastic 6 metre silk hand woven wall hanging to represent movement and direction for a recruitment agency called Perfect Placement.

Emma:  Any advice to businesses which don’t have the budget for commissioning work from you?

Catherine:  We’re always on the look-out for funding opportunities which can help businesses cover the cost of their commission.  So we’d urge businesses to contact us, in the first instance.

To find out more about the Idea’s Factory @NUA click here.

Contact Catherine Hill


Telephone:  01603 886384

fresh ideas : cost-effective : clear thinking

Get in touch and see how we can help

Ph: 07495 766622

About author:
Emma Finn is the Founder and Director of Pathfinder East. Read more here.

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