Changing the world – one challenge at a time

Team Memorial – Winners of the 2014 Global Business Challenge.

When the Global Business Challenge (GBC) started in 2014, we were excited to think where these ideas could end up and how the challenge could benefit communities globally.

The event was created as the first graduate business case competition aimed at developing sustainable that incorporate innovative technologies and business models to address a global challenge.

This is a unique competition for graduate students from the world’s leading business schools and universities to leverage their capabilities with collaborators from the research and business communities to formulate proposed solutions to major global challenges.

The GBC is also unique in that it is managed and delivered as a partnership by three leading Australian universities – Queensland University of Technology, The University of Queensland and Griffith University. Since its inception, the Australian and Queensland Governments have been major sponsors.

The 2014 challenge was to develop an innovative solution to use, recycle and/or manage water to achieve large scale beneficial impact. From the 40 submissions, representing universities and graduate business schools across 18 countries, panels of judges gradually selected six finalists.

One of the finalists, and 3rd place winners, Impacts Solutions, went on to compete in other business competitions and helped open doors for them internationally.

2015 saw the focus of the GBC turn to food, specifically, the challenge was to design sustainable solutions to aid the achievement of global food security through the doubling of food production by 2040.

Solutions included insect cultivation, food science and biotechnology, micro-cropping, aquaculture, livestock waste management and efficient use of infrastructure. 2nd place winners, Exatio, went on to have their solution trialed for commercial use.

In 2016, the challenge was to design solutions to improve the effectiveness and cost of healthcare outcomes for isolated communities.

The QUT team Smart Toilet Company won with a concept for continual monitoring of patient well-being using a phone app to enable remote analysis of urine samples.

2017’s challenge was to identify novel solutions that would lower the cost and/or reduce the risks associated with the transition from fossil-fuel based energy to achieving sustainability and reliability from renewable energy sources.

Seven finalist teams from around the world presented an array of solutions, with the winner chosen for their concept to combine all of the necessary elements of a complete solar system into a single product that is similar in accessibility and mobility to a portable petrol generator.

Solar Blox can produce a continuous level of residential power to run appliances through a standard power outlet. Solar Blox team member, Tim Larsen, shared his experience at the 2018 GBC Awards Dinner.

In 2018 the attention was turned to smart cities. The challenge was to develop novel and sustainable solutions through the application of smart technologies and new business models to improve the safety and well-being of the public in urban environments.

Again, seven teams were chosen from applications received from around the globe. Finalist teams presented ideas that included more efficient freight solutions, emergency evacuation tracking for large venues, detection devices for use during rescues after earthquakes and integrated financial and technological community programs.

The winning team, Fred, from the University of Pittsburgh, with a sophisticated agent-based modeling system that simulates and forecasts the dynamics of real-world health problems. One of the team members, John Cordier has continued with this idea is currently working on projects with companies across the globe.

Although the outcomes of many of the solutions presented will not become mainstream, I have no doubt that the thinking and ideas that develop because of this unique competition will help make our global future more sustainable.

Registrations for the 2019 challenge are now open. This year’s challenge focusses on finance. Specifically, the challenge is to develop solutions to improve trust and customer value in the delivery of financial sector services.

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Peter is the Director Open Professional Education QUT Graduate School of Business & QUTeX. Peter has extensive global experience in developing and delivering transformation solutions for individuals and organisations through the interface between education and technology. He teaches into specialist subject areas such as workforce and organisational transformation, innovation and strategy within the Graduate School of Business. With over 30 years senior and executive experience across both the private and public sectors as well as a former founder of a number of successful technology ventures, Peter presides on the Boards of several education technology companies, is a partner in a technology venture fund and is an advisor to state and Federal governments bodies on workforce strategy, industry skilling and microcredential policy. He is currently the Chair of the Queensland State Council for the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) - Australia's peak industry body for the ICT sector.

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