The University of York is teaming up with a finance company to give its marketing students a ‘Dragons Den-style’ interrogation.

Mole Valley Asset Management (MVAM), based  in High Petergate, York, is noted for running a portfolio consisting only of firms from Yorkshire.

Now, students taking the E-marketing module run by Dr Snehasish Banerjee will be asked to put forward their ideas for how to market the investment portfolio online.

Then, Dr Banerjee and managers of the portfolios will assess the students’ input and bring the best candidates forward to a Dragons Den ­style interrogation to ask them more about their ideas.

Finally, lucky students will be picked to implement their marketing strategies in real life.

MVAM made waves in the financial world in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic by announcing its Yorkshire T20 Portfolio, which is run, out of York, on the simple rule that if a company isn’t “made in Yorkshire”, it doesn’t go in the portfolio.

Duncan Sanford, director and portfolio manager at MVAM, first had the idea for the collaboration with the university after chancing upon a post from Dr Banerjee on LinkedIn about his E-learning module. He made contact, and the two quickly decided that a collaboration could work well for both parties.

“What’s attractive about this for us is that we are a community-based asset manager that prides itself on working with local companies. So it fits right into our company ethos to start working with the local university, and in Snehasish I found someone who saw the benefits as well.”

“For the students, they get to work on a real-life case, and know that if their ideas are good enough, there is the potential to roll them out for real and show on their CV that they have already got an example of how they have made a positive change to a company in the real world.”

Dr Banerjee of the University of York School for Business and Society specialises in teaching students about how the landscape of marketing has changed as companies embrace digital mediums such as social media, which has in turn also empowered customers to use online reviews and social posts to wield their own influence.

He believes this collaboration with MVAM will help his students bridge the gap between academia and the more cut-throat world of business, while also helping the university fulfil its mission of being a ‘university for the public good’.

“We want to show that businesses and universities can work in collaboration for the benefit of all locally,” he says.

He added: “Turning a real-world business problem into an assessment for students is an innovative curriculum design on the part of the university and, as an academic, I can now see how my research-led teaching can transform business.”