IPBS Business Sustainability Challenge 2021 – “Uniting students through purpose”

11th March 2021

On February 18th and 19th 204 students from the IPBS network, from across 12 universities, three continents and five-time zones participated in the first-ever IPBS Business Sustainability Challenge.

Building upon the concept of last year’s International Consulting Meeting at ICADE, the organizing team around the initiator Leonhard Klug (ESB double degree student currently at LUMS), created a two-day online event, where the students collaborated in 28 cross-cultural teams and thereby created sustainable policy ideas to tackle the world’s greatest challenges.

After a short introduction session and a motivating speech from IPBS president Andrew Gaudes, the students immediately started analyzing the given data, discussing possible measures, and finally creating sustainable policy ideas to anticipate the challenges that the fictional town of “Pumau” is facing.

“Confronting the participating students with a specific case that is tensible and requires concrete action is on the one hand showing the students how rocky some of the sustainability challenges can be, but at the same time it showed them how relevant the questions are to societies as a whole, to our global structure, to our global infrastructure and also how businesses can play a role in this”, states jury member Jan-Oliver Distler, who graduated from ESB/LUMS in 2018 and currently works as an economic advisor for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).


The jury, as well as the organization team were overwhelmed by the creativity and quality of the solutions that the student teams came up with – even though some of the teams faced eight hours of time difference. In the end, the six best teams, whose solutions were chosen based on their feasibility and innovational aspects, presented their ideas – reaching from blockchain systems to vertical farming – in the plenum. The quality of the output reconfirms the benefits of cross-cultural and international collaboration and thereby the importance of further strengthening the IPBS network.

Thanks to the commitment of the organizing team, the jury and the students a total of €2,500 were donated on behalf of the winning teams to OXFAM projects that tackle sustainability issues linked to the case challenge.

Leonhard Klug comments: “Overwhelmed by more than 300 applicants, we were impressed by the students’ response to our event concept. However, we were even more impressed by the outstanding commitment of our participants. Within less than 24 hours, the teams developed innovative policy ideas that exceeded the juries’ expectations and ours. While the participants worked on a fictional challenge, the donated money on behalf of the winning teams created a real impact and purpose for everyone. Together with last year’s event in Madrid, we proved how powerful the IPBS network is if we start leveraging it even more.”

Students from five IPBS partner universities collaborated online in the organizer team: Leonhard Klug (ESB & LUMS), Julie Biem (ESB & LUMS), Abhirup Bhattacharya (LUMS), Charles Bradbury (LUMS), Christina Schöpflin (ESB & NC State), Jannik Elmer (ESB & Elon), Constanze Ulreich (ESB & FGV) and Corinna Meyer-Riedt (ESB & Rollins College).

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