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Solving the world’s problems takes students to Canada

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University of Auckland students have placed in a prestigious international competition that aims to solve the world’s most pressing problems, winning $15,000 CAD to pursue their solution.

The World’s Challenge Challenge (WCC) encourages students from around the globe to work collaboratively on innovative solutions to global problems and helps them develop their academic, oral presentation, and entrepreneurial skills. The challenges are based on the Sustainable Development Goals put forward by the United Nations in 2015 – 17 important targets for issues such as poverty, food sustainability, clean energy, climate action, education, technology and infrastructure. The competition finals took place at Western University in Ontario, Canada.

At the WCC Auckland event, second-year Global Studies students came up with creative solutions for their chosen global problem. The winning team, called ‘Loyal Trees’ and made up of students Henry Frear, Arianna Bacic, and Ishie Sharma, proposed a carbon offset loyalty programme to promote ethical purchasing and address the issue of climate change. Their solution included an app for customers to accrue points with participating retailers, which could then be redeemed for the planting of trees to offset personal carbon emissions.

Julie McMullin, Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President (International) at Western University, says “We are incredibly proud of all the students who travelled from around the world to Western to compete at this year’s World’s Challenge Challenge Global Final. We’ve seen over the past few years that by providing this opportunity for the brightest minds to come together, solutions to our world’s biggest issues can be developed. Each year, our judges have the difficult task of choosing winning teams from an outstanding pool of talent. This was the University of Auckland’s first year participating and the Loyaltrees team rose to the challenge, presenting their idea clearly and concisely, and impressing the judges with the creativity of the project and its potential to promote sustainability.”

Henry Frear says that the members of his team were inspired to participate through seeing a need and having a desire to use their skills to do something about it.

In preparing for the World’s Challenge Challenge, team Loyaltrees received support from the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, getting advice on their business model and feedback on their pitch. Programme Manager Jenna Ash says “The team had done a lot of thinking around the business model already, but needed to get some ‘out of the building’ validation. We encouraged them to hit the streets, and they were encouraged to validate their value proposition with some of Auckland’s top cafes; reinforcing that their idea did have potential. Our support with their pitch encouraged them to lean into more narrative and the human experience, which engages an audience. They took this feedback on board willingly and delivered a compelling, humanistic pitch backed by facts and financials.”

“International competitions are valuable learning opportunities for our students. They are exposed to global thinking and international networks. Equally, it is buoying for our students to see that they are competitive on the world stage, with world class ideas, and potential global application.”

Team Loyaltrees have left the competition invigorated and ready to move forward with their venture idea. Henry says “Once we receive funding we will be looking to develop the key elements. This includes the physical customer facing interface and backend systems. We will also look to finalise relationships with cafes.  We so far have provisional interest from a half dozen, and will also seek to develop a marketing plan for eventual roll out over the next few months.”

The World’s Challenge Challenge
The World’s Challenge Challenge

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University of Auckland students have placed in a prestigious international competition that aims to solve the world’s most pressing problems, winning $15,000 CAD to pursue their solution.

The World’s Challenge Challenge (WCC) encourages students from around the globe to work collaboratively on innovative solutions to global problems and helps them develop their academic, oral presentation, and entrepreneurial skills. The challenges are based on the Sustainable Development Goals put forward by the United Nations in 2015 – 17 important targets for issues such as poverty, food sustainability, clean energy, climate action, education, technology and infrastructure. The competition finals took place at Western University in Ontario, Canada.

At the WCC Auckland event, second-year Global Studies students came up with creative solutions for their chosen global problem. The winning team, called ‘Loyal Trees’ and made up of students Henry Frear, Arianna Bacic, and Ishie Sharma, proposed a carbon offset loyalty programme to promote ethical purchasing and address the issue of climate change. Their solution included an app for customers to accrue points with participating retailers, which could then be redeemed for the planting of trees to offset personal carbon emissions.

Julie McMullin, Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President (International) at Western University, says “We are incredibly proud of all the students who travelled from around the world to Western to compete at this year’s World’s Challenge Challenge Global Final. We’ve seen over the past few years that by providing this opportunity for the brightest minds to come together, solutions to our world’s biggest issues can be developed. Each year, our judges have the difficult task of choosing winning teams from an outstanding pool of talent. This was the University of Auckland’s first year participating and the Loyaltrees team rose to the challenge, presenting their idea clearly and concisely, and impressing the judges with the creativity of the project and its potential to promote sustainability.”

Henry Frear says that the members of his team were inspired to participate through seeing a need and having a desire to use their skills to do something about it.

In preparing for the World’s Challenge Challenge, team Loyaltrees received support from the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, getting advice on their business model and feedback on their pitch. Programme Manager Jenna Ash says “The team had done a lot of thinking around the business model already, but needed to get some ‘out of the building’ validation. We encouraged them to hit the streets, and they were encouraged to validate their value proposition with some of Auckland’s top cafes; reinforcing that their idea did have potential. Our support with their pitch encouraged them to lean into more narrative and the human experience, which engages an audience. They took this feedback on board willingly and delivered a compelling, humanistic pitch backed by facts and financials.”

“International competitions are valuable learning opportunities for our students. They are exposed to global thinking and international networks. Equally, it is buoying for our students to see that they are competitive on the world stage, with world class ideas, and potential global application.”

Team Loyaltrees have left the competition invigorated and ready to move forward with their venture idea. Henry says “Once we receive funding we will be looking to develop the key elements. This includes the physical customer facing interface and backend systems. We will also look to finalise relationships with cafes.  We so far have provisional interest from a half dozen, and will also seek to develop a marketing plan for eventual roll out over the next few months.”


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