This month, participants of the International Master in Sustainable Business & Innovation participated in the first Innovation Challenge. During the 3-day Challenge, students take on the role of change makers as they work in teams to develop sustainable, innovative solutions to a persistent systemic issue using disruptive innovation. In the final stage of the Challenge, teams pitch their ideas to a panel of experts and “investors”, who select the first and second place winners.
In applying the disruptive innovation methodology, participants develop a series of highly valued skills that they can apply to their future career:
- Apply the disruptive innovation mindset and develop the related skillset
- Work effectively in a diverse team under pressure with limited time and resources
- Gain confidence and skills in pitching ideas in a persuasive manner
According to Programme Director Federica Massa Saluzzo, the second trimester of the master’s is the perfect time to dive into an innovative project.
Before launching into their own projects, participants heard inspiring stories from leading innovators in sectors like F&B, computer software and health and wellbeing:
- Sana Khouja Laout (MBA alumna 2014) – Sana is the CEO & Founder of the drink Zeena, vegan wines grown organically and with minimum intervention and sold in 100% recycled and recyclable cans.
- Angel Bou (Executive MBA alumnus 2012) – Angel is the CEO & Co-founder of Simplr, the first Life-as-a-Service platform with everything you need as a service.
- Stephanie Hoyle Caster (MBA alumna 2018) – Stephanie is the Venture CEO – Farmauna at Auna, an innovative provider providing access to healthcare among underserved populations.
During the Challenge, students were also supported by two mentors, Priyam Jaiswal, Co-founder and CTO of Tennders (International Master in Management alumnus 2020) and Lluis Dominguez Gomez, General Manager at Digest Grup Mèdic (MBA alumnus 2020).
This year’s participants tackled a wide variety of issues with their innovative proposals, with the winning teams
- 1st place: SunFridges – a solar powered refrigerator accessible during regular power crises
Group members: Nina Breitenstein, Abby French, Luna Idriss, Erik Moltzen, Katherine Zazueta
Moved by the experiences of two fellow classmates from Lebanon, this group set out to find a solution to improve the quality of life of the Lebanese people who regularly suffer from power outages. They focused on the basic need of providing food security during insecure times by designing a solar powered refrigerator accessible to every household in the country. Hear more from the winning group in this article.
- 2nd place: Solvrisa – providing a simple, affordable and kid-friendly solution to oral hygiene.
Group members: Gabrielle Carr (Canada), Antonio Leão (Portugal), Meggan Murer (France), Camila Veláquez Hernández (Mexico), Ashley Yau (Hong Kong)
Less than 50% of children in Mexico City brush their teeth, which leads to expensive, long-term health problems that seriously decrease quality of life. Solvrisa provides oral hygiene gummies to combat this issue — simply chew the gummy until it dissolves and children have taken a step towards improving their oral health for today and for the rest of their lives.
According to Luna Idriss (Lebanon) from the winning team, scaling down the project was an important part of the process and the limited time to innovate made the Challenge one of the most valuable learning experiences of the whole programme.
The programme director also highlights the importance of tight deadlines in the learning experience.
For Gabrilelle Carr from the runner-up team, the moment of truth came when it was time to do the final pitch together with her classmates.
The Innovation Challenge takes place annually, with participants from all Master in Sustainable Business & Innovation classes competing to present the best pitch of their newly-developed disruptive business ideas.