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Two golds for SBE in international student competitions

Two golds for SBE in international student competitions Two golds for SBE in international student competitions

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Foto 1 - Team 'Canada'

Foto 2 - Team 'Coop'

MAASTRICHT. How can Canada improve provisioning in health care? Also, what can Danish supermarket chain Coop do to reach youths and in doing so increase sales by five per cent? Two questions that the students from the School of Business and Economics know how to answer. Students from this faculty won two international case competitions within the space of a week: competitions in which student teams try to solve a problem.

COVID-19 in Canada
Ymke van Warmerdam, master’s student of strategic marketing, and her three fellow team mates focussed on the first question. “Our case was about the distribution of face masks and protective clothing,” says Van Warmerdam. The first of the two rounds of the competition were at the end of October.

Apparently, they did well, because they continued on to the second round in January. In this round, they were given a chance to perfect the solutions from round one. In the meantime, a lot had happened in the world, and the team decided to take a risk. “We put the case to one side and focused completely on vaccinations. We felt that this chain was much more important, because it could really help solve the problems in health care.”

The team went looking for new information and concluded that “Canada’s greatest problem was the highly decentralised distribution of vaccines. There was absolutely no overview. We designed a blockchain system and merged it with the system used by all Canadian hospitals. In this way, it is immediately clear that hospital X has a shortage of vaccines while hospital Y has a surplus.”

A gamble that paid off. 42 teams from 11 countries were left trailing behind them. They win four thousand dollars and a trip to Las Vegas. There they can, should COVID-19 not throw a spanner in the works, give their final presentation again at a conference for professionals in health care in August. These kinds of trips make the competitions great fun, says Van Warmerdam, speaking from experience. Last year, she also participated, on behalf SBE, in the competitions in Washington and Vancouver. Unlike the last competition, those were held on location.

The supermarket in Denmark
The second team to win had focused on a completely different sector in a completely different country. Their case focussed on Danish supermarket chain Coop, which wants to appeal more to young customers as well as increasing turnover by five per cent. Very important in all this is that it must not be at the cost of its sustainability objectives. Coop wants to be climate-neutral in 2030.

It started with a document of more than sixty pages, says Jakob Manthei, third-year student of Economics & Business Economics, and member of both teams. They first looked at this individually, and then got together to discuss their ideas. Manthei: “We came up with filters that would provide order in the chaos on the Coop website and app. Things like the question about a nut or gluten allergy. Then all the products that contain these items can no longer be seen in your overview.” In addition, they introduced a delivery service of packaged meals, similar to Hello Fresh. “That is not a big thing in Denmark yet, so we saw an opportunity. We think that there might be a market for it, for students when they have exams for example.”

Good ideas, Manthei feels, “but we knew it wouldn’t be enough to win.” They went one further by introducing new technology into the shops themselves: ‘augmented reality’, something from the world of artificial intelligence. To achieve this, digital elements are added to reality. “We came up with a kind of compass. Suppose you don’t know where the tahini is. An arrow on your telephone will show you the way. Allergies? Using the camera on your telephone, all the products that you are not allowed to eat change to the colour red.”

They got 32 hours to work out their plan, says Manthei. So quite stressful. “’It started on Wednesday morning at nine o’ clock and ended on Thursday at five in the afternoon.” So, that meant a very short night, he laughs. “We were given some time on Thursday to prepare our presentation on Friday.” They held it twice. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon in the finals. “Very exciting. The jury, the Coop boss and about two hundred people were watching the livestream.”

Their price? A ticket to the world championships next year in New Zealand, they thought until last weekend. They received a disappointing message. Last year's winning team may go to the upcoming World Cup because the last one has been cancelled due to corona. What and whether something will replace it is not yet clear.

The team that focused on Canadian health care consisted of: Ymke van Warmerdam, Jakob Manthei, Mara Henke and Romen van den Boom.
The "Coop" team included Henri Léon Karaski, Jakob Manthei, Sophie Bauer and Zoë Vierhouten.

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