ESI's student innovation programme in cooperation with partners held a student hackathon “ESI Sustainability Challenge” from 18 – 26 March. High school and university students were invited to create unique ideas for solving various challenges related to energy and waste issues. Challenges were offered by programme partners - "Rimi Baltic", "SEB banka" and "Eco Baltia".
Challenge activities were implemented in three phases. On 18 March, an online idea and team formation event was held. From 20 – 24 March students could join online mentoring sessions, work in teams and go on field trips to partners offices to validate their idea and get to know the challenges. Lastly, during the weekend of 25 – 26 March students gathered at Rimi Latvia office in Riga and onsite actively worked on their solutions together with industry experts and mentors. On the last day of the challenge, the teams pitched their solutions, which were judged by a project jury.
The three best teams were selected to receive cash prizes of 3000 EUR, 2000 EUR and 1000 EUR, respectively. In addition, program partners presented their own sympathy awards as part of their challenges. Not only the final performance was evaluated, but also originality and progress, i.e. how much the participants themselves have learned during the event. "Rimi Baltic" presented the sympathy award to the "Ecolliance" team, where the student team offered to upcycle unsold bread in stores, making beer and kvass products. The "SORTIQ" team won the sympathy award of "Eco Baltia" for the application that will help its users to reduce waste generation and responsibly dispose of items that are no longer useful. Also, "SEB banka" chose the "Renoinvestment" team as their favorite, who proposed the idea for apartment building owners' associations to receive visual materials and ambassador consultations to show the owners the benefits of home energy efficiency improvements. In addition, the team "Ecoclub" with the idea of supplementing the RIMI application with the "Sustainability Index" won tickets to the technology and start-up event - the conference "TechChill 2023".
The main cash prize of 3,000 EUR was won by the team "Last Chance Cuisine", who offered sustainable store stands to attractively present to customers markdown products. The second place and a prize of EUR 2000 was won by the "Green Dream" team, who developed an application with the help of which house managers and owners could see the energy efficiency of the house compared to other apartment owners and houses. Lastly, the third place and the 1000 EUR prize was won by the team "Rock's Revolution" with the idea of replacing the store's plastic bags with reusable stone paper bags.
The event united around 60 students from 14 educational institutions and several regions of Latvia and other countries, as well as from completely different fields of study.
Jānis Aizbalts, head of the environmental management sector of "Eco Baltia": "We are proud of the ability of young people to create unique and sustainable ideas, which could soon be the basis for developing new business directions both in Latvia and abroad. In the "Eco Baltia" group of companies, we have been practising the principles of sustainable business for several years and we are grateful for the opportunity to participate in this project in order to transfer our knowledge and experience to the young experts, who are the creators of the country's economic growth in the future. We are sure that many of the ideas prepared by students will soon be put into practice."
The ESI Sustainability Challenge was supported by the ESI Student Innovation Program of the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, "Rimi Baltic", "SEB banka", "Eco Baltia" and the European Regional Fund. Project number: 1.1.1. 3./21/A/008.a. The challenge is organized by Stockholm School of Economincs in Riga, Riga Graduate School of Law, Latvian Academy of Arts, Institute of Solid State Physics of the University of Latvia, Rēzekne Academy of Technology and other industry partners.