Lancaster University students have scooped first prize at the final of the national Santander Big Ideas competition

Patrizia Carbone, Sebastien Combret and Kyaw Tun Sein, who are all studying a MSc in International Innovation as part of Lancaster University’s China Catalyst Programme, have received £5,000 towards their biometric authentication business idea.

The trio have an idea for a bracelet that can read the unique ECG heart patterns of wearers and also includes a fingerprint scanner. The students believe the device would lead to greater security for online banking and would replace current security measures such as the texting of verification codes to account holders.

Sebastien Combret said: “It was a really good experience for us to win the competition and to show our idea to people from the banking sector and to get good feedback from them. We were not expecting to win the prize and so it was a really good feeling for us.”

The Santander Big Ideas competition was set up to identify transformational ideas to overcome some of the key technological issues and bring digital innovation to the financial industry.

Matt Hutnell, Divisional Retail Director at Santander Universities, said: “It’s vital that we encourage and reward entrepreneurial students to dare to challenge and innovate. Through Big Ideas, we asked students to create unique, forward thinking solutions with the potential to transform the sector.”

Simon Harrison from the Lancaster University Enterprise Team, which supports the entrepreneurial culture at Lancaster University, said: “This is a fantastic example how teams with different specialisms can create really innovative solutions that might not arise from one disciplinary approach.  Patrizia and Sebastian are skilled in design thinking and Kyaw has an engineering background.  Together they’ve tackled this problem as creative entrepreneurs, considering stakeholders and sustainable business models as part of their process.  Their success in this competition is really inspiring and we look forward to continue working with them in future.”

The award reflects the nature of the MSc in International Innovation

For more information on the competition please visit

More information about Lancaster University’s Enterprise Team is available by visiting

More details about the MSc International Innovation (Design) are available by visiting