Lausanne, Switzerland, 3 May 2019 – Two schools, two leading sports organizations, ninety MBAs, eighteen design students, one challenge: to come up with an innovative new way for fans to experience the emotion of watching live football.

Today, a mixed team of IMD MBA participants with a Master student in Product Design at ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne were selected by an expert jury as winners of the 2019 UEFA Innovation Challenge for their project to create a bracelet to improve the fan experience for future UEFA events including the UEFA European Championship 2024. The winning project was Euroband – a wristband with RFID technology, which fans can use to track their families’ locations and purchase refreshments and other items during football matches at stadiums and fanzones.

The team was comprised of Anita Lee, Joseph Pineda, Peter Shibaev, Maki Shimizu, Tamil Varda Thamizharasan all from IMD, and Benjamin Bichsel from ECAL. “The whole atmosphere of the team was like a safety net. More than ever, I believe how a team works and how everyone cares really contributes to success,” said Tamil.

“I’m so proud of the teams this year. They showed an impressive amount of energy and enthusiasm over the week,” said IMD Professor Cyril Bouquet, who created and leads the IMD MBA Innovation week. “Everyone comes from different backgrounds and from different perspectives, but they really gelled this week. There was so much team chemistry.”

“The way the projects really came together toward the end and how positive everyone was about this week was amazing,” said Seán Meehan, Dean of the IMD MBA Program.

Andrea Traverso, Managing Director Financial Sustainability & Research at UEFA, opened the event and echoed his admiration for the enthusiasm of the teams.

For IMD’s MBA innovation module, the school, UEFA, ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne and ThinkSport teamed up to create a unique and intensive experience for MBA and Master in Design participants to learn about innovation. The 2019 UEFA Innovation Challenge, powered by IMD, ECAL and ThinkSport, is a hands-on learning journey led by leading experts from the worlds of sports and business, which took place from 29 April – 3 May 2019.

18 teams pitched their projects to the jury and six teams were chosen for the finals. The teams combined IMD’s MBAs with a student from ECAL’s MA program in Product Design and MAS in Design for Luxury and Craftsmanship to reproduce the mix of business and design expertise to replicate the makeup of multidisciplinary teams in the real world of innovation. Many of the projects focused on improving the football experience for families and people with special needs.

The week followed a journey of innovation from discovery, idea creation, and business-model identification to pitching the idea to a Jury made up of UEFA experts, as well as of IMD, ECAL and ThinkSport representatives who selected the winners.

At the beginning of the week, the participants connected with fans as well as a multitude of stakeholders, industry executives and experts spanning the worlds of academia, sports and innovation. These conversations inspired the participants to tackle important problems that are part of the fan experience.

The group spent two days at UniverCité, a fabrication laboratory located in Renens, where the students will rapidly prototype the most promising ideas, test them and receive feedback from a broad range of stakeholders and innovation specialists. 

At the end of the week, the teams worked on business models to flesh out the desirability, feasibility and viability of their ideas, and learn to pitch their ideas to mobilize support and attract investors. 18 teams pitched their projects to the jury and six teams were chosen for the finals.

In addition to providing the basis for a new initiative by UEFA the winners won tickets to the finals of the UEFA Nations League in Porto, Portugal.

A second team comprised of IMD MBAs Tulio Barcelos, Maisie Borrows, André Costa, Arjun Dhaul, Damianos Kiramarios, and Hugo Paternostre of ECAL, was recognized for the passion they put into their initiative and the emotion their project evoked. They created a concept for a gift box of four cups with a voucher for a complimentary beverage at a stadium or fanzone that would be sent as a gift to encourage groups of friends who are not already passionate fans to go to experience a match together and re-discover football.

Jean-Baptiste Alliot, Innovation Strategy Specialist at UEFA, who coordinated his organization’s participation, said: “I truly hope that this partnership is just the beginning of the journey and we hope to implement your ideas in EURO 2024.”

“During the week, we learned a lot of really useful design principles and working methodologies – such as parkour – which have the added benefit of guiding you away from coming up with something that is designed entirely with yourself in mind,” said IMD MBA candidate Alex Berry.

Related story: IMD’s MBA program partners with UEFA, ECAL and ThinkSport to innovate fans’ experience

Photo courtesy of ©ECAL