The seventh autumn edition of Innovation Olympics has just finished and it has given rise to extraordinary and innovative projects. The action-learning program, promoted by IXL Center, connects students of the University of Trento from all over the world and businesses, giving our young innovators the opportunity to put themselves to the test.
This year, we closely followed one of the companies involved, the South Tyrolean Mila, who asked innovators to rethink the packaging of their yoghurt to make it more sustainable than the one that consumers currently find on the market. (read here the story of the problem from which they started).
From the very beginning, it was clear that meeting Mila's request would have required a lot of creativity, hard work and a good dose of talent, but none of the groups involved was discouraged.
From the very first meetings, it emerged that the diversity not only academic but also cultural of the students would have played a key role in trying to come up with effective and feasible proposals to solve the problem in a comprehensive way. In fact, on the one hand, skills and technical knowledge were needed for the choice of materials to be used, but on the other hand, the economic and legislative point of view for the production and the distribution of the new product could not be underestimated. Sociologists, economists, computer scientists: all the students shared their knowledge within their team in order to propose the winning solution to Mila.
The hard work of the participants has been repaid by the satisfaction of the positive feedbacks from the company. The ideas proposed by the innovators have always lived up to Mila's expectations and so their curiosity to know the final project has been high since the beginning of the adventure.
Innovation Olympics is as challenging as it is stimulating and reconciling life and duties as university student and young innovator has not always been easy for everyone. Finding an agreement to organize the times, commitments and tasks of the different members of the group, collaborate in the search for a shared solution, enhance the training and knowledge of all, in one keyword: teamwork. A necessary and tiring element that required extreme flexibility and negotiating skills. But all this is also part of the lessons of Innovation Olympics. This open innovation program is capable of developing skills that students would hardly have the opportunity to acquire by studying books, but which are enriching from a human, academic and professional point of view.
Summing up, it is extremely clear that it is necessary and important to innovate because, as Mila well knows, innovative companies grow faster.
It seems even clearer the ability of our students to be effective in this change, especially in a country like this, where companies invest less in open innovation projects than their international competitors.
This was confirmed also by the first edition of the research "Open Innovation Outlook: Italy 2019" conducted by Mind the Bridge, a consulting firm for innovation, with the support of Smau, a reference event in the Innovation and Digital sectors for companies and local authorities to which the report was presented. Looking at the Italian numbers shows the importance of a project such as Innovation Olympics: in a constantly changing world, it gives students the right tools to put their ideas into practice and to be the driving force behind this transformation. Because it is not necessary to be great startuppers but to have the courage to dare.