Imagine where your business could grow
Leverage our students' knowledge and skills to benefit your business
Do you run a local small or medium-sized organisation in the private, public or third sector?
Do you have a project that is non-critical but has the potential to impact your organisation’s growth or success?
Apply for our Business Consultancy Project (BCP) and use the expertise of our students to develop your business!
By putting their learning into practice, our students can help you with projects such as:
- Using marketing theory to develop better social media strategies
- Conducting competitor analysis to highlight gaps and opportunities
- Creating sustainable ways to attract funding for a social enterprise
- Conducting staff interviews to optimise internal business processes
- Evaluating customer feedback to generate solutions
- Recommending new products and services
There's no fee for taking part in a BCP as the students receive course credit rather than financial compensation. You don't need to provide desks at your workplace either as the student team will complete the bulk of their project work either on campus or out and about, meeting key people such as your clients.
Each student team is supported by an experienced academic colleague and the students attend weekly seminars to support the growth of their business and consultancy skills.
The BCP module has been running for over 5 years, giving hundreds of clients the benefit of a fresh perspective to find practical solutions to business challenges.
We typically run between 20 and 30 Business Consultancy Projects each year, with 80 to 120 students.
How to get involved
Applications for 2023 projects are now closed.
If you would like to register your interest in future projects or to find out more about how you can work with us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What our clients say
Many organisations that host a Business Consultancy Project return to us year after year, providing invaluable real-world experience for each new cohort of students.
Working with the BCP student team brought me new ideas that I had not even considered. Hearing their perspectives really helped us to think about new ways of marketing. I asked them at the start to dream and think big - and they came up with a new campaign which we are now implementing.
Spark Community Space
The student team worked with Spark Community Space to develop a thorough marketing plan that would serve to increase the charity’s profile in the local community.
What the students did
The students used academic models to critically analyse Spark’s current business model and marketing strategy. The team carried out primary research (with over 100 survey responses) and secondary research to develop a clear understanding of the problem and generate viable solutions. The team researched the national and local charity sectors, Spark users, and potential new target audiences and funders.
As a result of the project, the charity launched a fundraising campaign “to get moving for 25 mins a day for 25 days in May” which integrated the use of the Strava and Spotify apps to increase donations.
[Becki Simmons, Founder, Spark Community Space]
Spark Community Space was started because nine years ago I had brain surgery. So overnight I went from working to never being able to work again. So the charity was started so that people that maybe look the same but with disabilities can spark back into life, they can find purpose and worth.
I was contacted by the University of Portsmouth about whether I would be interested to have students come in to help knowledge exchange and to help the charity grow and be more effective in the city, and boy did they do that!
The team that the University of Portsmouth sent in were professional from day one, great at timekeeping - they have been awesome.
[Archie Rendle, BA (Hons) International Business]
One of the projects I worked on was about community space, which was Campaign 25. I was really proud of the project, when you see that something you've produced in the University can actually help the charity and help the local community, it's something to really be proud of.
The academic theory is really important but putting it into practice is kind of another challenge in itself. In terms of the Knowledge Exchange you can learn a lot from the business itself. I definitely think it's made me more employable.
That's the important part of the University of Portsmouth getting involved with business, it makes them realise that the companies need them. I needed them but I didn't know now I needed them and I think that's why more students should sign up, because together they become more employable.
Diamond Cut Refinishing (DCR)
We have been very impressed with the level of detail that the students from our selected BCP team have been able to provide and the data they have been able to find. We have used the data in the reports gained by the students to fill in some gaps in our investor Pitch deck and as such we have had very positive feedback towards this. We see that working with the students from Portsmouth University BCP has enabled some great insights to our business and its future.
DCR manufactures and sells alloy specialist cutting lathe technology, targeting the growing global market of vehicles fitted with alloy wheels. The brief was to create solutions to improve the firm’s sustainability using the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Circular Economy concepts, and then propose enhancements to marketing.
What the students did
The team adopted a Design Thinking approach characterised by different stages - empathise, define, conceive, prototype and test. The team developed a number of practical recommendations including a revised mission statement, better web and social media marketing and ways to monitor customer experience.
As part of their research into the US market, the team provided evidence for use in a pitch to venture capitalists. This directly contributed to DCR securing £500,000 in funding for expansion into the US market.
It gave us resources we didn't have, to look at problems we didn't have time to look at. So it gave us a big business opportunity for a small business environment. It brings in fresh thinking. Also, a lot of people might bring in the fact that they're so young as a disadvantage, but absolutely not. It brought in certain new energy and ideas that actually we hadn't even considered before.
Our students in action
Landau UK and University of Portsmouth Business School helped a group of students with real life consulting experience.
Presenter: Learning-by-doing encapsulate the ethos of the University of Portsmouth Business School where innovative teaching methods and strong links with local businesses enable students to gain real-world consultancy experience.
Jonathon Gibson headed to the south coast to learn about the impact of this approach.
Jonathon: When you're looking for a job experience counts, but how do you get experience?
Ben Metcalfe is the CEO of Landau, a specialist marine services company, and he's setting these final year business school students a real life consultancy challenge.
Their task - to assess the cost and effectiveness of current sales and marketing activity and to devise a sales and marketing strategy for the next five years.
The business consultancy project was set up by the University of Portsmouth Business School to give students real-world experience.
Yilin: So I can learn more about the business, what they are doing and what what kind of products they sell.
Jonathon: On site visits like this one are a valuable part of the process but this is more than a fact-finding mission. It's giving students real-life experience of working with clients outside the classroom.
Yilin: So I think face-to-face sales can get more emotional connection with customers.
Jonathon: Real world learning back in the classroom is helping to inform their own research. And they have to get things right - after all if the client takes on board their recommendations it could change the way his business operates.
Ben: Its pressure but it's something that you need to work with because in real life when you get a job, you're going to deal with real pressure. You have to turn up and deliver on a day and you have to show your value for what you can bring.
Peter: Real-world learning is incredibly valuable because it helps students to increase their chance of getting the kind of jobs and careers they want. But across the Business School and the Faculty of Business and Law we have a very strong focus on employability and having a range of learning modules that have very much that real-world feel to it.
But in order to make that transition between University and their future careers this experiential learning - actually trying it, getting that feedback, adjusting - is absolutely essential.
Jonathon: It's not just a one-way street. That's why every year 60 local businesses like Landau get real value by engaging with the university, giving them access to a pool of students supported by experienced academics.
Ben Metcalfe: It gave us resources we didn't have to look at problems we didn't have time to look at, so it gave us a big business opportunity for a small business environment.
Jonathon: And after months of hard work it's time for the students to share their findings with the client.
Ben: Today we're going to do a presentation.
Our main focus was to come up with three recommendations.
Yilin: In your sales team, your team structure is not very clear.
Ben: Another area that we think you're weak in is your social media.
Jonathon: Presentation over, what will he think?
Landau team member: Well I think it's very perceptive to be honest, our sales team do have too many tasks to do and actually to focus on sales was a really intuitive thing for you to pick up in the short amount of time that you've been able to spend in the business.
Jonathon: What do you get out of working with groups of students like this?
Ben Metcalfe: So it brings in fresh thinking, and also you know a lot of people might consider the fact that they're so young as a disadvantage but absolutely not, it brought in certain new energy and ideas that actually we hadn't even considered before.
Jonathon: And that's not just good for clients like Ben. Portsmouth Business School attracts students from around the world with valuable differing perspectives.
Yilin: Maybe the ways of thinking are different.
We can get many different ideas from each other.
Ben: It was the first time I've worked with people from different countries, you'd get a different perspective on things and then then you could use that perspective to may be tackle problems in a different way.
Jonathon: It's one illustration of how Portsmouth Business School is preparing its students for the world of work by giving them the experience of solving business challenges.
What to expect from a Business Consultancy Project
Your application form will be the basis for the project brief.
You'll be allocated a team of about 4 students in early October and the team will work on your project for 10 weeks from October to December. Students are expected to work on the project for about 10 hours per week, per student – with a team of 4, that’s 40 hours total each week!
Our skilled and experienced academic tutors will support the student teams throughout the project.
You'll have access to an online guide with key information about how BCP works. You'll also be invited to attend an online briefing in late September.
A typical project requires around 90 minutes each week from the client, with a little more at the start and end. Projects typically involve:
- a kick-off meeting at the start of the project (60 - 90 minutes)
- weekly team meetings (60 minutes)
- Final presentations (two hours)
The final presentation is part of the students' assessment so it's important you book this date early and ensure you are available.
Aside from this, you will need to make some time available to answer questions and emails from your team.
There's an annual Celebration Event held after the completion of all student projects for that year. During the event, we'll be hearing from some of the clients and students about the success in and learning from their projects and there will be plenty of opportunities to network.
There are also 2 networking lunches, one in October and one in November, for students and clients.
The consultancy process
The Business Consultancy Project usually follows the process below:
- Project design
- Analysis and research
- Solutions development
- Recommendations development
- Final presentation of results
- Report of final recommendations
Throughout this process, we encourage our students to experiment and try out potential solutions.
Promoting sustainability is a central theme in the University's strategy. So we want all students taking part in the Business Consultancy Project to find solutions for you that contribute to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and/or to the Circular Economy.
Key Dates for 2023/24
Applications for 2023 projects are now closed.
If you would like to register your interest in future projects or to find out more about how you can work with us, please email email@example.com.
- Monday 15 May 2023 - Applications open
- Friday 30 June 2023 - Client applications close
- Friday 28 July 2023 - Applicants notified of outcomes
Provisional dates for 2023 BCP events:
- week beginning Monday 18 September 2023 - Online Client Briefing
- Monday 25 September to Friday 6 October 2023 - Kick-off Meetings
- Wednesday 18 October 2023 - Networking Lunch
- Wednesday 15th November 2023 - Networking Lunch
- Monday 20 November to Friday 8 December 2023 - Final Presentations
- Thursday 18 January 2024 - Celebration Event
Skills students can bring to your business
In their first year, each student will have learned the basics of marketing, accounting, Human Resources, operations, quantitative methods and economics. In the second and final years, students will have specialised in different subjects depending on the modules they've chosen to study.
We recommend you ask the students what their skills and strengths are once the project has started to ensure the project makes good use of their abilities.
Students on any of the following courses can take part in the Business Consultancy Project:
Supporting your student team
For most students, this is the first time they'll have taken on a consulting project, and for some it may be their first time working with an external organisation. Any help and advice from you to our students in working on their project is welcome. You'll have a key role in inspiring the team through sharing your own experiences as well as any suggestions as to how the team can improve.
It's important to remember that students are expecting to learn and work as consultants, not as an extra resource to carry out day-to-day work. You should allow your student team to use their creativity to explore new avenues, including those that might challenge your assumptions about the situation.
To get the most out of a project, communication between you and your student team is essential, both face-to-face and online. You'll want to introduce your student team to any staff members they'll work with and provide them with any additional resources and contacts they need.
You and the student team will be meeting weekly for progress updates by the team and to determine the next stages. You’ll need to plan in time to respond to queries and teams will often produce interim solutions that you can consider implementing.
You'll need to attend the team’s end-of-project presentation to hear and give feedback on their final recommendations. You're not required to formally mark this presentation but your feedback as a client will be gladly accepted. You can invite any other interested parties to this presentation.