Looking back on the BBA Business Challenge

berend van der kolk

Last month, we hosted at IE Business School the very first edition of the #ieBBA Business Challenge in Madrid and Segovia: a competition between top universities and business schools from all over the world to solve a complex real-life business case. This year’s theme was “Responsible Innovation”, and as one of the organizers and case writers I’m happy to briefly reflect on this first edition.

What is the IE Business Challenge?
Teams of four students from The Chinese University of Hong Kong (China), Ivey Business School (Canada), Lund School of Economics and Management (Sweden), BI Norwegian Business School (Norway), Rotterdam School of Management (The Netherlands), The University of Melbourne (Australia), the University of Washington (USA) and IE Business School (Spain) participated in the first edition. The student teams had to solve and present two business cases – a 4 hour case and a 24 hour case, both specifically written for this competition.


What were the cases about?
As mentioned the theme for this first edition was Responsible Innovation. The first case (written by Maya Kumar and myself) dealt with the ethics of self-driving cars and the challenges this poses related to marketing and strategy for Audi. To get an impression of the implications of self-driving cars, have a look at this article in SCIENCE and this advertisement by Audi. The team from Ivey Business School won the first competition by proposing how Audi could let consumers decide on the types of decisions their self-driving car should make.


The second case introduced the Spanish ethical fashion brand ECOALF. The core of the case focused on the question how ECOALF, as a Benefit Corporation, could grow, become profitable and continue to be innovative and sustainable. This case was written by Martina Pasquini and myself, and student teams had 24 hours to solve this case and present their findings in front of a jury, consisting of academics and professionals. We were very happy with the support from ECOALF and with the fact that they could attend the presentations by the students! To get an impression of the content of the case, watch this mini documentary by The Economist on fashion, environmental issues and ECOALF.


Although all teams did an outstanding job in analyzing the data and presenting very original and thought-provoking solutions, in a competition like this there has to be one winner. That winner was the team from the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) from the Netherlands. Their solution included a detailed analysis of ECOALF’s current situation and a well-developed plan to collect ocean waste and make products of the waste in Turkey.


As organizers and case writers we were very happy with the positive reactions from the participating students, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s edition! We thank all student teams, their coaches, the jury members and everyone else who made this first edition of the #ieBBA Business Challenge a success!

If your university or business school also would like to participate in next year’s edition, please contact us via the Business Challenge website or send me a message via the contact form.

For more reflections on the IE Business Challenge:

2 thoughts on “Looking back on the BBA Business Challenge

  1. Pingback: Teaching case ECOALF published | Berend van der Kolk

  2. Pingback: Teaching case autonomous vehicles | Berend van der Kolk

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