SSE Riga students win top prizes in the "ESI Sustainability Challenge" hackathon focused on sustainable solutions
ESI's student innovation program, in cooperation with partners, held the "ESI Sustainability Challenge" student hackathon from March 18th to 26th. High school and university students were invited to create unique ideas to solve various challenges related to energy and waste issues, as offered by program partners "Rimi Baltic," "SEB banka," and "Eco Baltia."
The challenge activities were implemented in three phases. On March 18th, an online event for idea and team formation was held. From March 20th to 24th, students could join online mentoring sessions, work in teams, and go on field trips to partners' offices to validate their ideas and understand the challenges. Lastly, during the weekend of March 25th to 26th, students gathered at Rimi Latvia's office in Riga to work on their solutions actively with industry experts and mentors. On the last day of the challenge, the teams pitched their solutions, which were judged by a project jury made up of project partners.
Around 60 students from 14 educational institutions and several regions of Latvia and other countries, as well as from different fields of study, participated in the event.
All the teams were evaluated together, and the three best teams received cash prizes of 3000 EUR, 2000 EUR, and 1000 EUR, respectively. Additionally, program partners presented their own sympathy awards as part of their challenges. The final performance was not the only criterion for evaluation, but also originality and progress, i.e., how much the participants themselves have learned during the event.
The team "Last Chance Cuisine," including SSE Riga student Ričards Agapovs, won the main cash prize of 3,000 EUR for offering sustainable store stands to attractively present markdown products to customers. The "Green Dream" team, including SSE Riga students Nora Ķigure, Volodymyr Kykot and Matīss Katanenko won the second place and a prize of 2000 EUR for developing an application to help house managers and owners see the energy efficiency of their house compared to others. Lastly, the "Rock's Revolution" team won the third place and the 1000 EUR prize with the idea of replacing the store's plastic bags with reusable stone paper bags.
"Rimi Baltic" presented the sympathy award to the "Ecolliance" team, including SSE Riga students Daša Varmaškina and Oleksii Serbinenko, for proposing upcycling unsold bread in stores into beer and kvass products. The "SORTIQ" team, including SSE Riga students Aļika Prjaņišņikova and Cristina Lopatețchi, won the sympathy award of "Eco Baltia" for the application that will help users reduce waste generation and dispose of items responsibly. "SEB banka" chose the "Renoinvestment" team as their favorite, who proposed the idea of apartment building owners' associations receiving visual materials and ambassador consultations to showcase the benefits of home energy efficiency improvements. The team "Ecoclub" won tickets to the technology and startup event, the conference "TechChill 2023", with the idea of supplementing the RIMI application with the "Sustainability Index."
Jānis Aizbalts, head of the environmental management sector of "Eco Baltia," stated that they are proud of young people's ability to create unique and sustainable ideas, which could soon be the basis for developing new business directions both in Latvia and abroad. He further added that many of the ideas prepared by students would soon be put into practice, and they are grateful for the opportunity to participate in this project to transfer their knowledge and experience to young experts who are the creators of the country's economic growth in the future.
The ESI Sustainability Challenge was supported by the ESI Student Innovation Program of the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, "Rimi Baltic", "SEB banka", JSC "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 Economics 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.