Circular solution wins Innovation Race for Sustainability

The winning team (from left); Carlotta Schäfer, Pauline Held, Juliette Nicolodi, Aneta Benedigova, Jef Vloeberghs, Pauline Held and Femke Van Verre.

On October 17-19, the annual student competition Innovation Race for Sustainability took place. 150 students from Jönköping International Business School (JIBS) participated in the competition to generate new, sustainable solutions based on the circular economy for some of the county's well-established companies. The challenge resulted in sharp concepts that will help companies meet future challenges – sustainably and successfully.

This was the fourth year for the Innovation Race for Sustainability, which is a collaboration between Science Park, ALMI and Jönköping University. Starting at 9:00 in the morning last Monday, the students had 24 hours to solve a real-life sustainability challenge from a selection of five companies. The event turned into an innovative hub where students, businesses and business developers met.

This year, five companies participated in the Innovation Race, presenting real challenges from their everyday business. Carina Blom, certified innovation leader at Science Park, is very impressed by the commitment shown by the students during the competition days.

"They really put a lot of effort into the task! Of course, they are driven by the competition itself, but still, it is the opportunity to contribute to the companies' sustainability challenges and create a viable business that ignites the real spark. The companies have great confidence in them and like the students' way of thinking outside the box,” says Carina.

From idea generation to pitch in 24 hours

The students were divided into 26 competing teams with a mission to solve one of the five challenges provided by the companies. After 24 hours of hard work, the groups pitched their solutions to the companies, who then each named a favorite to advance to the grand finale.

One of the teams pitching at the grand finale.

After tough deliberation by the jury, consisting of representatives from JIBS, Starbright Invest, ZiGrid and Science Park, the winners were announced. On the winning team were: Jef Vloeberghs, Aneta Benedigova, Femke Van Verre, Juliette Nicolodi, Pauline Held and Carlotta Schäfer. They presented an innovative solution to reuse MP Bolagen's cable ladders, focusing on circularity and social sustainability. The prize pool consisted of 15,000 SEK and a copy of the book "Exponential climate change" by Rebecka Carlsson.

The winners were tired but very happy. Theymaintained that their hard work had paid off and that it was worth working until 4:00 in the morning.

"I'm thrilled we won. Some of us on the team have been looking forward to this challenge for two years. It was great to finally put into practice everything we've learned over the years in this competition. Our case solution turned out great, and we came up with a good solution. I'm very happy and very proud of us. Happy, but tired,” says Carlotta Schäfer.

The jury’s rationale:

"The winner of this year's Innovation Race for Sustainability is a team that, with a creative presentation, captured the jury's interest by taking us on a virtual tour. The team has a well-thought-out business process with clear roles and a business arrangement as a subsidiary. The solution has a holistic, sustainable perspective – environmentally, socially and economically – that aligns well with the company's values and the three existing foundations. The winners are Team #6 and the MP Companies."

The challenge given by MP Bolagen:

"We want to explore a way to reuse products instead of taking them down and throwing them in a container. We believe that many of our products can be reused, as they are to some extent hidden and fulfil their function perfectly, despite being used before."

Participating companies

MP Bolagen

FC Gruppen