MBA Venture Award 2023 - IMD Business School
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Eco-friendly chemicals company wins 2023 MBA Venture Award

A company that aims to provide global access to clean water through scalable and affordable technologies has been selected as the winner of the 2023 IMD Venture Award.
October 2023

Jasper Schakel, an MBA 2023 candidate, and his business partner Erik Kraaijeveld, who recently earned an engineering doctorate at TU Delft, won with Chemical Innovations in Water Industries (CIWI), a company which aims to facilitate access to the chemicals needed to treat water by harnessing the power of electro-chemical engineering. 

“Erik and I have been tinkering with this technology for a while, but it was the venture award that pushed us over the edge to really dive into the matter and see how we could create a business out of it,” said Schakel. “The venture award gave us the focus and drive to build our business case, and IMD gave us the knowledge and tools to excel at this task.” 

CIWI was selected from three finalists by a jury comprising IMD alumnus and serial entrepreneur Thierry Maupilé (MBA 1988), Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship and Management Jim Pulcrano, venture capital investor Olivier Laplace (MBA 2014), and Kevin Linker, Managing Partner, Raine Next-Gen Communications at The Raine Group. 

Jaspar Schakel laying some pipework inside a polytank to convert it into a sedimentation tank during a trip to Ghana in 2022 to work on a prototype. - IMD Business School
Working on a prototype during a trip to Ghana in 2022


Now in its second year, the award is open to any member of each year’s current MBA class and aims to strengthen the IMD startup community by providing budding entrepreneurs with the funding and mentorship needed to launch and grow innovative new business ideas. 

The other finalists were Madhav Venkaswamy, with his venture Crucible Learning, which aims to help learners unlock new opportunities for growth and success in their careers, and Stephanie Vetsch, who pitched Industry Transformer, a venture that takes heavily customized transformer neural networks and applies them to the energy and manufacturing sectors. 

“This year’s candidates for the IMD MBA Venture Award were remarkable, not just for the rigor and quality of their pitches but also for the diversity of the ventures they were proposing, from an online embroidery business to the use of AI in the energy industry,” said Pulcrano. “I’m proud of the MBA class, and thankful to my co-judges, Thierry Maupilé, Olivier Laplace, and Kevin Linker.” 

MBA Venture award - IMD Business School
Jasper Schakel laying some pipework inside a polytank to convert it into a sedimentation tank during a trip to Ghana


The MBA Venture Award was made possible thanks to the generosity of Maupilé, CEO at ELEO Partners, who launched the award in 2022.  

 “After 20+ years spent incubating and managing start-ups, it is important as an MBA alumnus to be able to share and support entrepreneurship in the IMD MBA program,” he said. “For the second year of the MBA Venture Award, we reviewed great projects, full of innovation and enthusiasm, and I am looking forward to working with the winner. The impact of the IMD MBA Venture Award is way beyond what we expected. It shows how IMD alumni can contribute to ensure IMD sustains its leadership in executive education.”  

The award includes a financial grant of 100,000 CHF, as well as mentorship from Maupilé and Pulcrano. Candidates interested in the award may apply individually or as part of a team. At least one of the venture’s founders must be an IMD MBA candidate. However, collaboration with individuals from other institutions and backgrounds is encouraged. 

IMD has a long and rich history of helping new ventures through its annual Startup Competition. Almost one third of the Top 100 Swiss startups have benefitted from the support and expertise of IMD’s MBA or EMBA alumni. IMD has also partnered with Innovaud on a new scale-up program for fast-growing startups. More information on how IMD is collaborating with Swiss startups to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem can be found here.