Dean’s Challenge: a festive event with fruit snacks, degradable plastic and walking frames

On Monday 6 November, the final of the Dean’s Challenge – an annual case competition – was held for the third time. During the course of twenty-four days, the students attended workshops to help them develop and fine-tune their ideas, so they were well prepared for presenting them to the jury. Of all the submitted solutions, three were selected in each category to compete for first prize.

2017.11.08 | Amalie Tromborg Thaysen

All the happy finalists are assembled. The winners received DKK 10,000 and the prize for second and third was DKK 2,500. (Photo: ‎Vincente Kenrice Klehr)

The Nanopaper team: Deby Fapyane, Isabel Alvarez-Martos and Hector Raposo Vega. (Photo: ‎Vincente Kenrice Klehr)

The Independent Elder entry: Magnus Graf Skou. (Photo: ‎Vincente Kenrice Klehr)

The Merry Berry team: Assela Ongarbayeva and Eric Sutherland. (Photo: ‎Vincente Kenrice Klehr)

The atmosphere in the lecture theatre was thick with innovation ideas prior to the start of the final, with chats about everything from performance techniques to entrepreneurship and networks. The person next to me was obviously a great fan of the latter, immediately shaking hands and presenting himself in the form of Flemming Würtz Andersen, a speaker from Capnova – a company that invests in entrepreneurs and helps them on their way. So it was definitely a day of opportunities.

Once the event got under way, there was perfect silence in the lecture theatre, where we witnessed the presentation of some excellent and innovative ideas. The silence was only broken by a child who was unable to curb his curiosity, asking his mother what was going on when the different prototypes were demonstrated at the front.

Knowledge-heavy jury

The jury sat in the first row and consisted of Dean Niels Chr. Nielsen and three company representatives, each representing one of the three categories. Thor Højlund Olsen from Oticon represented HEALTH, Lasse Hinrichsen from ENORM represented FOOD, and Sam Levie Harrington from LEGO represented CLIMATE/ENERGY.

After the nine presentations in three different categories, the jury went out to vote. When they finally came back, it was Dean Niels Chr. Nielsen’s job to announce the winners – Nanopaper, The Independent Elder and Merry Berry.

Plastic made of oranges

The idea of a biologically degradable alternative to plastic made of citrus fruit was created by the Nanopaper team, consisting of Deby Fapyane, Isabel Alvarez-Martos and Hector Raposo Vega, who won first prize in the CLIMATE/ENERGY category. With a daily consumption of 7 million disposable plastic cups all over the world, there is a great need for an alternative to plastic. It did not take many horror images of whales with enormous numbers of plastic bags in their stomachs for everyone to virtually gasp “What’s disposed of in the sea ends up inside you.” And plastic lasts for a very long time. The Nanopaper team’s degradable idea has the competitive advantage of being transparent.

Tougher walking frames

The Independent Elder entry, consisting of Magnus Graf Skou, won in the HEALTH category. The idea is to make a walking frame with summoning equipment, so elderly people no longer need to be afraid of moving around on their own and falling over without being able to call for help. The frame is equipped with a sensor on the handle that registers the presence or absence of a hand, and calls for help if necessary. A hip operation costs DKK 200,000, and 133 walking frames with summoning equipment could be purchased for the same amount, thereby preventing falls. The idea here is based on a personal story, and the jury found it to be of a quality all its own.

Snacks with a clear conscience

In the FOOD category, the Merry Berry team consisting of Assela Ongarbayeva and Eric Sutherland ran off with the victory by wanting to make dried fruit snacks out of surplus fruit. This includes fruit of the same quality as other fruit but, because of their smaller size, they are hard for growers to sell. Using an industrial oven to remove 80% of the liquid, it is possible to make delicious snacks – especially for children – out of the otherwise unwanted fruit. “We’d like it be just as easy for parents to choose at it is for children to eat.” The strategy for them is to form relations with fruit growers and farmers, so the idea can really take off.

Falling off a bicycle

To finish off, the audience also had a chance to vote – and our winner was the BikePod team, who really made something of their introduction. One of them came in riding quite an old bicycle – and suddenly there was a bang, and he hit the floor. This was to demonstrate their idea of creating more reassurance, mainly for elderly people, where a kickstand is lowered on each side whenever the bicycle is not moving to prevent imbalance leading to a fall. About 20% of falls from bicycles happen when people are getting on or off and, by drastically minimising this percentage, they will make it possible for everyone to go by bicycle. This team’s prize was a gift basket.

Staff, Public / media