On parade

The University of Bath alumni blog

Topic: Bath

Alumni support helps student launch an exciting new startup


📥  Bath

University of Bath student, James Courtney, has launched a business which he hopes will replicate the success of loyalty programmes like Air Miles, but in the restaurant market.

His app-based business, LUX, which was developed with support from alumni, has already signed up a number of Bath restaurants, been accepted into two accelerator programs (SETsquared and Entrepreneurial-Spark) and raised in excess of £60,000 in crowdfunding.

James had the idea for LUX when he noticed a gap in the market for professionals who dine out regularly on business, but whose loyalty wasn't being recognised. After winning the University's Business Plan competition (twice) and taking home top prize of £3,000 in the alumni sponsored Dragons' Den competition, James began to develop his idea as part of his placement.

He gave us his 'elevator pitch': "LUX does for restaurants what Air Miles has done for airlines. It's a premium rewards scheme that allows customers to earn high quality rewards for money that they are already spending on dining out, and allows restaurants to fill spare capacity with their perfect customers (high spending, business or affluent customers). There is also a social good element, as LUX helps to raise money for local charities. All this, and LUX delivers a high growth, cash-flow positive opportunity to investors."

As well as financial support, James also received valuable insight from alumni on a trip to New York and Boston last year.

James says: "I really can't thank the University enough. The support I have received has allowed LUX to have a real chance at success. We have now been able to hire four University of Bath graduates, launch the app and are gaining increasing interest from angel investors. We want to prove the concept in Bristol and Bath, before we scale up and expand into London in 2017."

James is joined on the project by fellow graduate, Josh Maynard, and Richard Godfrey.

If you would like to learn more about James or LUX, you can contact him at james@luxrewards.co.uk

You can find the app on both Android and Apple app stores.



Celebrating our 50th with alumni overseas

📥  Bath, International

I have been accompanying the Vice-Chancellor on a tour of Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore to celebrate our 50th anniversary year with alumni. And bumping into an international rugby star along the way...

Saturday 2 April - The tour begins

We spend a lot of time celebrating how international a university we are, and I'm often heard citing how great it is that we have 100,000 alumni in more than 150 countries, but as I looked at my schedule before leaving the house this Saturday morning, I did sort of wonder - 15,000 miles in five days!

The Vice-Chancellor and I are going to celebrate the University's 50th anniversary, with alumni events in Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore, accompanied by a tag team of Events colleagues: Sarah in Dubai, and Laura in Hong Kong and Singapore - a big 'thank you' for all their help. Record crowds are expected in each venue.

Here's hoping for no delays, and luggage that stays with us all week - oh, and - channeling a previous correspondent - some decent coffee.

Saturday 2 April - Arrival in Dubai

A warm welcome was bound to await us as we arrived into Dubai at midnight, but I confess I was impressed with this set up in the hotel room - and it was edible too!

A warm welcome.

A warm welcome.

As for the Bath duck, was that genius irony, or does everyone get one? It's almost as though they have got their hands on our 50th memorabilia plans...

Dubai duck.

Dubai duck.

Saturday 2 April - Dubai event

One down, two to go. That went really well. A great spread of ages among the graduates, some locals, some expats, a warmly received speech from the Vice-Chancellor (and the technology worked - unlike during my rehearsal...) and we also launched our new Alumni Network here in UAE.

You can see more pictures of the event on our Flickr page.

Alumni event in Dubai

Our Dubai event

Monday 4 April - Celebrity spot

Sean Fitzpatrick, All Blacks legend, on the same plane. He's going to the Hong Kong Sevens; we're not. We shall be in Singapore by then.

As you might imagine, he was absolutely fascinated to hear how it's the Economics & Politics degree from Bath in 2003 that makes Steve Borthwick such an expert when it comes to cracking opposition line out codes. As a proud Scotsman it was difficult for me to wax lyrical about England's Rugby Union success in the 6 Nations, but a Bath graduate is a Bath graduate, and I'll take the opportunity to celebrate their achievements whenever and wherever (even at 39,000 feet above Chittagong if necessary).

Should have asked him what he thought about Luke Charteris (BSc Sport & Exercise Science 2005) touring New Zealand with the Lions next summer.

Neutral territory, the British & Irish Lions - not for "Fitzy" though!

Sean Fitzpatrick

Sean Fitzpatrick

 Tuesday 5 April - Arrival in Hong Kong

Got to the hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui a little before 11pm, a decent flight from Dubai. I can now understand why people have been telling me it's a good idea to break the long trip to the Far East with a stopover in the middle.

A great meeting with Dr Betty Chan (Honorary LLD 2015) among others today, then prepare for this evening's event.

130 alumni have registered for the reception, which could make it our largest ever alumni gathering in Hong Kong.

Lots of HK can make you feel that you're a long way from home, but then, en route from the MTR in Central, you realise in many ways it's just the same as Bristol really.

Harvey Nichols Hong Kong

Harvey Nichols

Except when you see the bamboo scaffolding...

Bamboo scaffolding

Bamboo scaffolding

Tuesday 5 April - Another successful event

Sir CK Chow (Honorary DEng 2001) is a great performer. To observe him working a room is to witness a master at work - definitely hope I can pick up some tips.

Cracking event tonight, fabulous location and venue, and a great crowd.

Another pair of excellent speeches, from the Vice-Chancellor and Sir CK. The biggest "ooh" definitely came for the pictures of student accommodation nowadays - I think we may have recruited quite a few postgrads just on the basis of wanting to return to campus and enjoy the modern comforts!

Student bedroom

Student bedroom

Student kitchen.

Student kitchen

Two events down, one more to go; both great successes. As Sir CK put it, if we have achieved this much in our first 50 years, just imagine what the next 50 could bring!

Off to Singapore at 8.30 in the morning, the penultimate (and shortest) flight.

Thursday 7 April - Arrive in Singapore 

The alumni tell us we need to improve our brand here in Singapore - don't tell the Director of Marketing & Comms. Perhaps we could amend our logo a little to pretend to be this one? I'm sure the United Overseas Bank wouldn't mind.

And I bet Martyn Whalley would love to have a crack at persuading the Bath planners that a neon logo on a 50 storey building would be just the ticket in our 50th Anniversary year!

United Overseas Bank logo

United Overseas Bank logo

Thursday 7 April - Singapore event

Here's the calm before the storm (a phrase you can say a lot in Singapore, although actually we haven't been caught in the rain yet).

The High Commissioner's residence

The High Commissioner's residence

That's the third and last event done - another success. Now there's just the small matter of 300+ follow up emails to send, conversations to pursue regarding placements, mentoring, donations, research partnerships, visits back to Bath, and everything else you try desperately to retain having had hundreds of conversations. Thank goodness for business cards and the visual cue they can give.

Only one fly in the ointment - the High Commissioner's visitors' book revealed that we somehow managed to let a Bristol graduate through the net! I'm all for GW4, but really, that's a bit much...

The visitor's book

The visitor's book

Fly home tonight, land at 5.10 tomorrow morning in Heathrow. I will be out training the U10 boys and girls rugby by 9.30 - looking forward to it. It's always good for the soul when the little terrors reveal quite how unimpressed they are by where you've been in the last week - puts it all into perspective.

A great trip, though, real enthusiasm for the University, for the roles that alumni can play to support us, excellent venues, record turnouts, money raised, and no technology hiccups.

My thanks to Laura Andrews and all the team back at the ranch in DDAR for helping to make it all look so easy - it's not, and the people who matter know how much work goes into it.

I'll shut up now - that's more than enough blogging from me...


Let it snow!

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📥  Bath, On campus

One of the biggest up-sides of preparing for our fast-approaching 50th anniversary is looking at the collection of your photos from the 'old days' which you have kindly been sending in to us. We've been putting some of the best on our Flickr photostream - thank you for sharing your memories with us.

In a bid to get into the festive spirit early this year, we're looking for Christmassy photos from your time at Bath. Snowmen on the Parade, Christmas parties, you get the idea!

We will be creating an album on Flickr of your seasonal student snaps and, you never know, one of your photos might even make it on to our alumni Christmas card…

If you would like your photo to be included in our album, please send a scanned or digital image (as high-res as possible) to alumni@bath.ac.uk. Please include as much information as possible, including the year it was taken and anyone you can name in the picture.

University of Bath snowball fight on the Parade

Here’s a starter for ten. Can anyone name the three combatants?


Behind the scenes of the Large Hadron Collider

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📥  Bath, International

As a Bath graduate based in Geneva, and the CEO of the world’s largest cancer NGO, the link between the University and CERN is for me, a compelling one. And one which, amazingly, came about due to a chance alumni connection.

In a nutshell, engineers from my old university are adapting technologies from the Large Hadron Collider to find ways to treat lung cancer tumours more effectively.

CERN group around collider

At the Large Hadron Collider

Dr Steve Hancock, who studied physics at Bath in 1980, had been working on 3D imaging technologies at CERN for over 20 years. He had the idea that the type of imaging used to examine tiny particles moving close to the speed of light could be beneficial in medical treatments too. So when he saw a tomography laboratory at the University mentioned in an alumni e-newsletter, he was inspired to get back in touch with Bath academics.

A year on and, alongside Dr Manuch Soleimani from the University’s Electrical Engineering Department, they secured £100,000 of funding from CERN to work together on the application of his technology. Lung cancer is particularly difficult to treat as the tumours move a lot within the body due to the motion of breathing. This makes it difficult for surgeons to remove all of the cancer without damaging healthy lung tissue. Bath and CERN’s technology should help surgeons to see the real time movement of cancer tumours in the body, and will hopefully one day translate into an affordable product that hospitals around the world can use. The project has the potential to impact the lives of thousands of cancer patients and is a great example of how blue skies research at CERN can turn up incredible and unexpected applications.

And where do I come in? I founded a Bath alumni group in Geneva a few years ago, because I wanted to help fellow graduates find their feet in the city, make friends and get on in their careers. We’re a mix of generations, working in all kinds of areas, from the UN and NGOs to pharmaceuticals and corporate finance. We try to meet up at least twice a year for drinks or dinner to share our experiences of working in Switzerland, have fun, and help each other in any ways that we can, such as passing on job opportunities.

To celebrate Bath’s new partnership (and the happy accident of our living in the city where the world’s most talked about science takes place right under our feet), the Alumni team at Bath arranged a special opportunity for our group to visit CERN in July.

Matthew Wilson, one of our newest members of the group, at CERN's Large Hadron Collider

Matthew Wilson, one of our newest members of the group, at the Large Hadron Collider

Our day began with a welcome from their ‘Head of Beams’, Paul Collier. Beams, we were to learn, are what they accelerate around the 27km long ring of tunnels which lie 150m below ground, before they collide in the Large Hadron Collider. While the beams are circling the ring it is the coldest place in the Universe, due to the liquid helium cooling the giant magnetic tubes, then the hottest place in the Universe when they collide, hotter than the centre of our sun! This was the first of many awe-inspiring facts and sights.

I was surprised to learn that CERN employs many more engineers than physicists - it is the engineers who designed and built CERN’s giant instruments. One point, particularly pertinent to a university like Bath, is that without the engineering and computing behind CERN, there would have been no Higgs Boson Particle, or World Wide Web (which was invented there).

The highlight of the day was descending down the lifts to see one of the Large Hadron Collider experiments, CMS. This was special access we’d only been granted because of Bath’s links to CERN, and it was a truly magnificent, Sci-Fi-esque vision. By this point the science had gone a little over our heads, with talk of quarks, laptons and fermions, but you couldn’t help but be impressed by the human achievement. When they conceived the idea of the Large Hadron Collider, the engineers and scientists hadn’t a clue how they would turn it into a reality, but through ingenuity and perseverance they succeeded.

This event was the first of its kind in for us in Geneva, and I would like to thank everyone who made it possible for us to gain such an amazing insight into the world of CERN. I look forward to seeing how Bath’s research project progresses and hope that this partnership will be the start of something remarkable.

Cary Adams (BSc Economics, Computing and Statistics 1985, MBA Business Administration 2002) is  Chief Executive of the Union for International Cancer Control and the leader of Bath’s alumni Chapter in Geneva.


Goodbye... and hello!

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📥  Bath, On campus

Do you remember your graduation day?

It can be a bit… well… emotional, as you say goodbye to the place you’ve called home for the last three years or more. But it’s also a new beginning.

Three days of ceremonies in the Abbey last week – many presided over by our new Chancellor, HRH The Earl of Wessex – saw thousands of students become Bath graduates.

Every year, we in the Alumni Relations team take time out to greet new graduates, their families and friends, and press a goody bag into their hands. It’s one of the highlights of the year for us when, on behalf of Bath alumni everywhere, we welcome new graduates into our thriving alumni community.

Graduation 2014 goodbye

Raise a glass to that...

This year we also asked new graduates to record their “Goodbye” – what they would miss about Bath ...

... or “Hello” – what they were looking forward to next.

Graduation 2014 hello

Enjoy it 🙂

See more Hellos and Goodbyes in our Flickr gallery.


A very special place

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📥  Bath, On campus

Crispin and Formula student car

Crispin (right) chats to a member of the University's Formula Student racing team

Bath is a very special place to me.

So when I received the 2014 Alumni event invitation I immediately made plans to attend. Sure we’d had an informal 20th anniversary get together in Bath for the 1984 Engineering Class. I’d also travelled from my home in Toronto in 2001 to show my wife and daughters the University and city (admittedly with a secret desire that one of them may choose to apply). But, this was the chance to really take in the full university experience over two days of planned activities. Oh, and enjoy a few beers and laughs with old friends.

The Alumni Reunion embodied the University of Bath spirit. Confident, forward thinking, friendly, innovative and striving to make the world a better place. Each scheduled activity celebrated this uniqueness and cemented first hand why the University of Bath ranks #1 in many independent University surveys.

There’s another reason Bath is a very special place to me. Its charm and beauty attracted my wife-to-be in the summer of 1987. A Canadian backpacker traveling in Europe after graduation, Bath was on her must visit list. We met in Tilley’s, and will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this year.

Crispin Clarke (BSc Aeronautical Engineering 1984)


As the train drew in to Bath Spa station...

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📥  Bath, On campus

As the train drew into Bath Spa station I looked at the beautiful city I had lived in for four years. The sun was shining - it was going to be a great weekend. That evening , dinner and a wander round – oh look! The Green Tree looks the same but there is a bouncer on the door. The Saracen’s Head still looked the same – I met my future husband there. At breakfast the following morning, two more friends from Applied Biology were in the dining rooms – a lovely surprise and the beginning of a growing group- we found two more friends up at the University during the morning and more people found us during the day.

The campus had changed a lot – many more buildings and all the trees! We enjoyed the slide show and kept thinking we recognised people but the images didn’t stay long enough for us to be sure.

After some interesting talks and a lovely lunch we went on the tour of the Science buildings and were disappointed that the South Building does not seem to have had the investment of other parts of the campus. C’mon, Bath, put this right!

Saturday evening, we met up with another year group for a few drinks then had a leisurely meal in one of the many new restaurants – it was wonderful how well we all got on and how much we had to talk about. Sharing memories and thinking of those who were not there, we formed a plan to try and get a much bigger group together, maybe for the 50th celebrations in 2016/17.

Biddy Unsworth (BSC Applied Biology 1974)


Could a reunion be inspirational?

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📥  Bath, On campus

Could a reunion be inspirational?

This wasn’t the question at the forefront of my mind as I agreed to attend the University of Bath reunion.

I have been back to the City of Bath numerous times, but have never ventured back to the top of 'the hill'. What would I do and whom would I see? Would I get marched off the premises by security?

So, when I received an invitation to attend a 35th anniversary reunion, the spark was there to see what had changed. Saturday 10th May was the day it all happened.

I arrived later than planned due to the Badminton Horse Trials congestion. Not to worry, as the Alumni Relations team warmly welcomed me. I was quickly able to strike up conversations with ‘strangers’ as we had so much in common.

The buffet lunch enabled us to catch up on old times and the faculty tours brought the memories flooding back. Lecture theatres and exam rooms were all there to re-experience. It was good to see the progress being made with the campus and the educational offerings.

In mid afternoon, there was a lecture on the University, past, present and future. During the following convocation meeting the statement was made – “we are proud of you, and we hope you are proud of us”. You bet!

So, could a reunion be inspirational? For this 35th year alumnus, it certainly was.

Kevin Phillips (BSc Electrical and Electronic Engineering 1979)