What is Spark?

Spark gives young people first-hand experience of working in the world of Data and Technology as well as introducing them to some supportive and influential people in the industry to help develop and grow their professional networks.

The IRI team have partnered with the Co-op to create the Spark project. Together, we want to help young people to thrive and come back stronger after the experiences of the pandemic. We hope that taking part in this project will ignite the creative flames of students across the Co-op Academies Trust and offer them a taste of what a career in the Big Data and Technology industry might be like. Our industry thrives on ideas, insights and bags of energy, things we believe young people will have plenty of!

Every year we will challenge a new cohort to respond to a brief tackling a particular industry issue or opportunity. Previous examples have included “What’s the Next Big Thing in Ready Meals?”
Students are given hands-on access to Co-op shopper and sales data that sits within the HIVE Liquid Data insights platform developed by IRI. They are supported throughout the project by mentors from both IRI and Co-op and given coaching to help them develop their proposals.

Teams of between 2 and 4 students present their ideas including the insights that informed them to an experienced group of guests from across the industry. Alongside IRI MD Dan Finke and Head of Retail Jaime Silvester, previous supporters include former Co-op Group CEO Steve Murrells, former Co-op Director of Data & Loyalty Charlotte Lock and Chris Tomlinson, CEO Co-op Academies Trust. We also welcome guest judges with particular experience in a relevant field, and have been delighted to be joined by Segun Akinwoleola, founder of The Gym Kitchen.

The team with the best idea wins a week’s work experience with IRI when they get their teeth stuck into real-world insight generation. A great opportunity to experience the world of work as well as build an invaluable network of experienced FMCG professionals. Previous winners have been so impressive that they have been offered a place on a degree apprenticeship programme with IRI!

The Spark programme kicks off in September and we wish all teams the best of luck and look forward to seeing their ideas.

Congratulations 2022 Spark winners;
Daniel Hurley, Callum Birch and Jay Kerry.