Team SUSI (Strategic, Universal, and Sustainable Innovations) from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) bested four teams from Cornell University, the University of Calgary, the Indian Institute of Management, and Hult International Business school to win the 2023 IXL Winter Olympics Innovation Challenge. The competition, which was part of an eight-week program by the IXL Center and the Global Innovation Management Institute (GIMI), gave participants the opportunity to serve as business consultants to large firms worldwide and solve real innovation, growth, and sustainability issues presented by Industry 4.0.

Team members Gabriel Nuque, Ryan Sumayod, Adam Ong, Mikey Araneta, Jocel Dilag, and Carla Leonor from AIM’s Master of Science in Innovation and Business program impressed the international judges with their business solutions, innovation, and ability to develop a business model utilizing different areas of ECOPETROL, a Fortune 500 company in the oil and gas industry.  Despite the difficulties posed by the time difference, the group met with the requisite stakeholders and attended masterclasses to gather obligatory information to complete their winning business case.  Participants were expected to utilize thinking-out-of-the-box to arrive at alternative solutions to traditional processes yet present a plan ready for immediate implementation. 

Lead Mentor Carolina Chitiva pointed out that they demonstrated the ability to provide “the most innovative and disruptive solutions for the challenge” performing with the utmost professionalism during the event. She added, “I was very impressed how the team worked cohesively and was able to divide their roles strategically — from research to technical know-how all the way to creation of presentation and effective communication of ideas.”  

Team SUSI shared that AIM provided the foundation that bolstered their confidence in servicing a company within an industry with which they had very little experience.  AIM’s multidisciplinary faculty also led them to resource persons that lent their expertise in helping the team accomplish their goals. They added that GIMI’s framework pushed them to consider other opportunities they had not previously contemplated and investigate alternative approaches to problem-solving. This in turn led them to employ a more integrated method in developing their solutions.

The team’s victory highlights the significance of innovation and diverse perspectives in coming up with alternative solutions to complex challenges.