Chalmers and Ikea spur innovation in sustainability with a competition

​Gamification to raise awareness of global sustainability, reuse of old furniture through the Ikea website and 3D-scanning to discover damage to returned furniture. These are a few of the ideas coming out of the Innovation Challenge, where Chalmers students developed innovations that could transform both Ikea’s products and their business operations.
​In a rapidly changing world, business and academic partnerships are becoming increasingly important. This is also true for a company like Ikea, which is looking to help secure a good foundation of competence among young talents to help tackle future challenges in retail, supply chain logistics and product development, to name just a few.

This year, Chalmers University of Technology and Ikea Supply collaborated in a new competition among students: Innovation Challenge. Here, students from the Industrial Engineering and Management program integrated theory and practice to conceptualize digital innovations to help Ikea fulfill its vision of a more sustainable and circular future. Approximately 120 students were divided into twenty groups. The students presented their ideas for each other and a jury with Innovation Leaders at Ikea Supply Development and Innovation Networks, who then selected three winners.

Innovation Challenge also represents an opportunity for Chalmers students to get a first experience of real working life:

“We designed the Innovation Challenge to enable our students to take the classroom into the real world and work on challenges that companies are facing today. In this manner, Chalmers can also create value for society that goes beyond the walls of the classroom. The students did an amazing job taking on Ikea’s sustainability challenge, and I am so impressed with what they delivered,” says Robin Teigland, Professor in Management of Digitalization at the Department of Technology Management and Economics.

New ideas to be tested

For Ikea, the benefit is a contribution to their circular business model as well as specific feasible solution proposals to be further tested, developed and deployed.

“We hope that coming together will bring new digital approaches, outside-in perspectives and smart solutions to real-life situations at home for our customers,” says Tomas Francl, who has worked with people and culture at Ikea for over 20 years.

Ikea, who is a strategic partner to Chalmers, also aims to further develop their cooperation with Chalmers:

“Initiatives like the Innovation Challenge shall be maintained and developed further. Many Ikea employees come from universities, and they have great experience with a high level of competence like the students from Chalmers possess. It’s a part of Ikea’s strategy to innovate and develop together so this is a contributing step on that journey,” Tomas Francl continues.

The winning teams and their proposals, from the jury's motivations:

”Smålandia Game”. Education for a sustainable tomorrow - for the many
Team members, group 3: Hugo Dalhgren, Sofia Stjepanovic, Alva Jansson, Felicia Svensson, Oskar Kullner, Fanny Söderling.
Group 3 skillfully combined digital education, Ikea’s customer needs and sustainability challenges in their concept of “Smålandia”. The long-term goal of the project is to educate the next generation of Ikea customers through gamification and mobile applications. The knowledge acquired in a gaming format is believed to raise awareness of sustainability globally to the next generation and give the right tools to make conscious purchases. This idea highlighted the importance of educating future generations by means of digital technologies and was recognized as imaginative and outside-of-the-box. [Creativity Award] (Ikea Prize for uniqueness, simplicity and feasibility)

”Ikea FYND” Using old furniture to make new homes special!
Team members, group 5: Anna Garnbratt, Jens Sandgren, Ida Hansson Häggstrand, Casper Lindh.
Recycle your old Ikea furniture with profit and ease” - Group 5 found a way to reuse old Ikea furniture to make new homes special. Their concept FYND could enable customers to sell their old Ikea furniture to other customers within the official Ikea website. FYND would also facilitate first-hand-users to easily find a market to sell their products and allow Ikea to gather first-hand knowledge of sold products that could be evaluated and refurbished when brought back. With a clear design vision and a strong customer focus, group 5 was awarded the [Customer Innovation Award] (Ikea Prize for customer centricity and building on existing Ikea strengths).

“Scand3r for Ikea” Automated scanning and tracking of Ikea furniture.
Team members, group 6: Tamas Nagy, Jonas Röst, Emil Nilsson, William Schmitz, Renato Roos Radevski, Ella Sibbmark.
With SCAND3R, group 6 explored the technological opportunities of 3D-Scanning and RFID tags in Ikea’s business model. They found their use case in automatically scanning returned Ikea furniture to identify potential alterations or damages and developed a value proposition for both Ikea and their customers. In acknowledgement of a thorough technical analysis, including financial and security risks, group 6 was awarded the [Technical Innovation Award] (Ikea Prize for technology and innovation)

The Innovation challenge was a collaboration between Ikea and the Entrepreneurship & Strategy Division of Chalmers University of Technology and part of the course “Leading in a Digital World”, organised by Professor Robin Teigland with her PhD students Adrian Bumann and Maria Kandaurova.

For more information, please contact:
Tomas Francl, Competence Development Area Leader IKEA Range & Supply
People & Culture at Inter IKEA

Robin Teigland, Professor in Management of Digitalization at the Department of Technology Management and Economics at Chalmers University of Technology

Page manager Published: Tue 28 Jun 2022.