Student ideas to the world’s rescue

Photos: Marthe Svendsen and Ingvild Forseth

Student teams developed business ideas that target the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the Babson Challenge Local Finale.

In the inspiring atmosphere of the innovation collective FRAM, five teams are making themselves ready for their presentations in the Babson Challenge Local Finale. Two teams from
Nord University, with nine campuses north of Trondheim, has made the trip.  

– The experience of this challenge is worth the travel. The innovative collective is lovely and really welcoming, and we are looking forward to see the rest of the campus later today, says Rachael Jones from Nord University.

A total of six students in two student teams from the Nord University participated in the local finale of the Babson Challenge

Jones’ student team wants to build an online knowledge sharing platform for professors cross countries. They are targeting the fourth sustainable development goal, quality of education. The second team from Nord University, called NatureUp, seeks to develop a plastic free certification system.

– We are passionate about making the world go plastic-free. Therefore, we have created a plastic-free certification scheme that will be a valuable tool for helping businesses reduce their plastic footprint and show their dedication to making a more sustainable future, Stina Skånhoff from NatureUp says.


A step in the right direction

The Babson Collaborative Student Challenge is a competition hosted in multiple countries to get students to come up with business ideas that target the UN Sustainable Development Goals. NTNU decided to collaborate with the initiator of the competition, the Babson College, to host the Norwegian local finale.  

–  Norway and other UN member states has committed to work towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. This competition is a concrete step to try to push the development in the right direction, says co-project leader Marthe Svendsen about the event.

Prior to the event, student teams had sent in business proposals. The winning prize of the global final in May is a two week full scholarship at the world-recognized Babson College, as participants in the entrepreneurship program Babson Build.

Life on land and below water

One by one, the student teams present their ideas exclusively in front of a jury. The teams have been asked to prepare a 20 minute long talk and for questions from the jury beforehand.

–  I know many of you are presenting your idea for the first time today, and that many of you are nervous, but you all doing a very good job, one of the organizers calls from the stage.

The range of ideas is wide, reflecting the fact that the teams have chosen different UN Sustainable Goals to orient their business idea towards. One of the NTNU teams also aim to reduce the level of plastic in the world.

–  Our idea is to replace plastic cups at festivals and concerts with a cup you can wear or put in your pocket to reuse. It concerns life on land and below water, the 14th and 15th Sustainable Development Goal. If the same plastic consumption rate continues, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050, says Malin Amankwah from Team Lommekopp.

Malin Amankwah and Susanne Halleen from Team Lommekopp wants to replace plastic cups at festivals with one you can wear or put in your pocket for reuse.

Two winners

The jury consisted of the head of Engage, Roger Sørheim, the leader of Spark NTNU, Synne Marie Sollie, and the CEO of the NTNU startup Alva Motor Solutions, Jørgen Selnes. Sollie is called to the stage to announce the winners.

–  It was very difficult to come to a conclusion. You have a lot of good ideas and nothing to lose, but everything to gain if you decide to continue with your idea, says Sollie.

A winner from each university is announced. NatureUp from the Nord University, and Leak Detection from NTNU, who wants to enable aortic aneurysm patients to perform controls at home after operation. Both winners are rewarded with 40 hours of paid working time and a mentor from Engage towards the global finale.


Innovation to the rescue

The project leaders of the event, Marthe Svendsen and Erik O’Donnell, had a lot to say about the importance of the challenge. They are both students in their fifth year at NTNU School of Entrepreneurship and work part time at the Engage centre.

–  Business development has become a realistic and legitimate way to make the world reach the climate goals. This is important to showcase and make people aware of. We want people to look at this as an opportunity to contribute, says Erik O’Donnell.

– The competition was devoted to undergraduates to motivate students to start with innovation as early as possible. We hope to enlighten students with ideas about the fantastic support they have at NTNU, such as the free counseling services by Start NTNU or Spark NTNU, Marthe Svendsen adds.