Joint delivered by ECCI and SAGES, the ECCI Innovation Consultancy Programme is a pioneering career enhancement opportunity for NERC and SAGES postgraduate students. The programme matches students with a wide range of organisations to provide meaningful research work opportunities for the students, and top class research and consultancy resources for the businesses.
In the first in our series of 2018/19 case studies we hear from social enterprise One Cherry and PhD student Marja van den Houten.
Marja van den Houten - a geoscience PhD student at the University of Aberdeen and member of SAGES - the research pool linking geoscience and environmental science across Scotland. Marja has a background in Environmental Biology, researching alternative methods in a variety of areas from fossil fuels to marine litter, and in a variety of locations including Brazil, Gabon, France and Scotland. Her current research focuses on investigating the transitions going on in environmental governance.
One Cherry - a start-up with a social mission to make shopping from local second-hand shops easy and enjoyable for everyone. Since launching the start-up has won a string of awards including the Social and Environmental prize in the University of Edinburgh’s Inspire Launch Grow awards and a place on ECCI’s Climate-KIC Accelerator programme.
Founded by University of Edinburgh PhD student Anton Puzorjov, One Cherry provides charity shops with a user-friendly and easy-to-use mobile app to start reaching local customers online.
Over the ten day consultancy project Marja was tasked with analysing One Cherry’s business practices and suggesting strategic changes that could help the business perform better in the future with the aim of improving the sustainability and success of the innovative social enterprise.
Marja set about getting to know the business, meeting founder Anton and their dynamic team of volunteers, following their work on the ground in local Edinburgh charity shops and pouring over the company’s existing strategy documents and research material.
Armed with this knowledge Marja began to analyse the businesses strengths, weaknesses and performance since launching in February 2018. She then produced a series of recommendations as to how the start-up could improve performance, kick-start revenue generation and open up new avenues for business diversification and expansion.
Anton Puzorjov, founder and CEO of One Cherry said: “Marja has provided us with excellent business analysis at an important time for the business, with a clear pathway of recommendations so that we can start making changes and improvements to the business.
“Marja’s extensive workplace experience and established network in the carbon sector was a great asset.
"In addition to this expert analysis she was able to bring new contacts and knowledge that would otherwise be inaccessible to us, helping us identify stakeholders that could potentially help us in the future.”
Marja van den Houten said: “The internship was useful for my future career prospects. It took me out of my PhD niche for a brief spell, inspiring some new ideas and refreshing others.
"Being based in ECCI’s vibrant low carbon hub also allowed me to network with other practitioners."
Want to know more?
Find out about our work with SAGES, a network that gives organisations, businesses and policy-makers access to geosciences-related expertise from across Scotland.