UNSW Business School students take gold at Innovation Olympics

The UNSW Sydney team was given a business problem: to assist Universidad Industrial de Santander, a South American university, to become a Top 3 educational institution in Colombia.

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This is the first time a team from UNSW Sydney, pictured with Jeffrey Tobias, took part in the IXL Innovation Olympics.

UNSW Business School students have won first place at the world’s largest innovation consulting competition, the IXL Innovation Olympics, on their debut attempt.

The UNSW team at the event included Febe Amelia Haryanto and Benedikta Atika Prastyamita, who were studying the Centre for Social Impact’s (CSI) recently introduced Master of Commerce in Global Sustainability and Social Enterprise at UNSW Business School.

“We are so glad that we could win the competition, given that it was really intense as we were also juggling with our own study commitment, and we were in two to four different time zones throughout the eight weeks,” Ms Haryanto said.

The IXL Innovation Olympics is an intense eight-week consulting competition. There are seven companies acting as clients and 21 universities from around the world that participate. Each client presents a specific challenge, which five or six university teams (assigned with mentors) must compete to overcome.

The UNSW interdisciplinary team was mentored by AGSM Fellow Jeffrey Tobias and was made up of the following students:

  • Febe Amelia Haryanto (Master of Commerce in Global Sustainability and Social Enterprise & Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Australia Awards scholar from Indonesia)
     
  • Benedikta Atika Prastyamita (Master of Commerce in Business Strategy & Global Sustainability and Social Enterprise, Australia Awards scholar from Indonesia)
     
  • Luke Wicent Sy (UNSW Sydney-sponsored PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering)
     
  • Jason Alacapa (Master of Public Health and Master of Health Management, Australia Awards scholar from the Philippines)
     
  • Romeo Jay Pragacha (MBA, Australia Awards scholar from the Philippines)
     
  • Wan Nie (Master of International Business, Australia Awards scholar from Bangladesh)

Team UNSW Sydney's challenge was to help client Universidad Industrial de Santander achieve its vision of being the ‘University of the Future’ and in the Top 3 universities in Colombia.

Ms Prastyamita explained: “We attempted to rethink the way an education institution should innovate. We proposed some major themes on innovation based on the industry and their local context: innovation hub, social impact, and micronisation of university degrees. We tried to combine them into one concept of micronisation and social impact.”

The IXL Innovation Olympics is a fully online competition with student presentations around the world being delivered remotely.

“The eight-week intensive program is designed like a university course, with different modules and tools introduced and weekly presentation. It can also be accounted as an internship program, which will be helpful for us to build our resume. More importantly, you are working with a real client and a real issue, to help you prepare for the real world,” Ms Prastyamita said.

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Associate Professor Leanne Piggott, Education Director of CSI, said the team’s success was a testament to the quality of teaching and relevance of the MCOM program in this burgeoning area.

“We’re immensely proud of what our students are achieving. We know that more and more businesses are wanting graduates who have an in-depth understanding of what sustainability and social change means, and how they can bring this to a business setting. The IXL Innovation Olympics is a good example of what that can look like,” she said.

As winners, the team members are entitled to receive a $US4000 cash prize, a potential visit to Colombia to present their solution to the client, and professional certification.