Monash Warwick Alliance students tackle global sustainability issues in 48hour challenge

Eighty students from Monash and the University of Warwick were chosen to compete in the inaugural World Innovation Challenge (WIC). The challenge started at 10am (BST) on Friday 9th October and students had just 48hours to design a business that tackles one of three Global challenges; Sustainable Cities, Gender Equality and Quality Education.

The students worked in teams of six to conceptualise a product or service and prepare a business outline and proposal. Each team had to pitch their business idea via a 5-minute video by Sunday 11th October at 10am (BST).

University of Warwick student, Luke Netherclift, explained how himself, Ptolemy Banks and Benjamin Lui from Monash University worked together to design the World Innovation Challenge;

"I first came up with the idea with Ptolemy Banks as we were both Innovation Fellows for Warwick University and wanted to strengthen the connection between Warwick and Monash University as well as wanting to help students realise their potential to be social entrepreneurs! The inspiration came as my Study abroad at Monash offered the perfect route to develop my connections with Monash SEED and work with them to design and deliver the challenge. Ben from Monash SEED shared our vision and the partnership showed how complementary the two universities are and how a global challenge can bring new perspectives which catalysed many of the innovative ideas teams came up with!"

This student collaboration has been funded through the Monash Warwick Alliance Student-led Activity Fund which supports students from the partner universities to work together to design and deliver international activities.

All Thirteen teams successfully completed the challenge with one student commenting “WIC has pushed me to think beyond my comfort zone, ideate a new product and concretely think about its development. It has been an exciting journey which has actually produced a great outcome and has awakened my entrepreneurial skills."

The judging panel, which consisted of leading academics from the two partner universities and successful entrepreneurs, had a very difficult job choosing the winning entry. Panel member, Peter Ptashko, Warwick University's Social Entrepreneur in Residence and Founder of Cambio Consultancy said;

“The WIC typifies the value of an intra-university partnership, such as the one between Warwick and Monash. The opportunity to bring together talented student entrepreneurs, practitioners and researchers to share good practice in impactful business and generate exciting business ideas is an exciting one that the WIC has grasped with both hands and I was delighted to join as an assessor and hope to see some great businesses emerge from this work in due course”.

The winning team was NEUT, who were awarded seed funding to kickstart their business of £2000GBP// $4000AUD. They designed a multi-purpose sustainability app that aims to introduce carbon conscious mindsets to the wider public through incentives. The app will offer rewards dependent on how sustainable each user lives. This will include discounts in local stores and other rewards. NEUT users can plan their daily lives sustainably from where they can get eco-friendly products within local businesses, dispose of their waste in the most efficient ways and find the least carbon emitting journeys. Ire Adegboyega spoke on behalf of the team;

“We thoroughly enjoyed the 48-hour sustainability hackathon! Firstly, we had individual brainstorming sessions, then came back as a group to discuss ideas. The masterclasses also helped streamline our thought process and we had a mentor who supported us with constructive criticism using her experience and expertise. Our team was incredibly diverse, in terms of country of origin as well as academic backgrounds, this was very beneficial in offering various perspectives on sustainability. Given it was a virtual event, we had to take advantage of technology which was difficult as we were from three different time zones. Yet, through our dedication we embraced these challenges. “

The student organisers plan to run the World Innovation Challenge next year and to make it even bigger and better, Luke Netherclift said,

We’ve already had some messages from students from other universities and so I cant wait for future World Innovation Challenges where we collaborate with more universities and develop many more social entrepreneurs around the world! If you are at another university anywhere in the world and would like to explore a future collaboration please email worldinnovationchallenge@gmail.com.