Friday, March 19, 2021

This March, sixty University of Iowa students participated the Frontier Co-op Case Competition, solving real-world sustainable business problems and competing for $4,000 in cash prizes.

The cases, designed by Frontier Co-op, were about corporate social giving and maintaining culture during COVID-19.

Out of 22 finalists, Elias Escobedo-Gonzalez and Antonio Robles, two students earning their master’s in business analytics at the Tippie College of Business, took first place and won $1,200 for their solution to improve employee well-being during COVID-19.

“Our solution involves the creation of a program to disseminate corporate culture,” Escobedo-Gonzalez said. “The program creates groups within a company of likeminded individuals through a clustering algorithm. These groups will be paired up with a current employee, which we referred to as the leader. The groups and leaders will engage in activities related to the corporate culture and will rotate through company-identified modules. The benefit of this program is two-fold. The current employees will gain leadership experience and new employees will learn the company’s culture.” 

All University of Iowa students were eligible to participate in the competition. Students developed solutions that made a positive impact on the business and society. All participants connected their business ideas to UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Throughout the competition, students had the opportunity to meet with coaches, who acted as a resource for the teams as they developed their solutions. Teams submitted a video pitch of their solution, and a group of judges decided which solutions made it to the final round. Finalists then presented their sustainable business solution to a panel of judges for a chance to win cash prizes.

Two UI student organizations, Enactus and Net Impact, co-hosted the event with Frontier Co-op and the Tippie College of Business.

“We care deeply about the effect our business has on the world–the people we do business with, the way our products affect the environment, and the holistic health of us all,” said Frontier Co-op Chief Executive Officer Tony Bedard. “We hope the competition inspires the next generation of business leaders to take a closer look at the role sustainability will play in their careers.”  

“We are extremely appreciative of Frontier Co-op for providing our students an opportunity to develop sustainable solutions to real-world challenges facing businesses today. Their commitment and level of awareness of how business impacts the world is a great example for our students,” said Sara Maples, Tippie College of Business adjunct lecturer and manager of research support and sustainability.

This is the sixth year that the Tippie College of Business has partnered with Frontier Co-op to offer a competition for students to gain experience and knowledge about sustainability.