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Meet the three winners of the Lucerne 2021 Haskins Innovation Challenge!

Smart event concepts, fresh ideas, new cross-sector relationships and many happy faces – those are the outcomes of this year’s Haskins Innovation Challenge, which culminated in the final pitch contest held online on 15 December.

The project, aimed at reinventing the major sport event of tomorrow, had kicked off in October and will remain a part of the Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade legacy. Over two months, a total of 25 student teams from Lausanne and Lucerne developed smart ideas on innovative and sustainable sport events, which guarantee positive legacies for the host region and its population. For the final pitch event, the ten best concepts were pre-selected and entered into fierce competition in front of a high-profile expert jury and a knowledgeable audience.

“The students’ contributions were of high quality, addressing current trends and global developments,” said ThinkSport Director Anna Hellman after the contest. “Their clear vision for the future should be of high interest for any major sport event organiser aiming to attract young audiences. Hear from them first-hand!”

The three winning teams and projects are:

  • Team Champagne proposed a hybrid event open for mass sport participation using metaverse. VR glasses would allow everyone to join the event from everywhere. The two-stage event would be open to anyone in the online qualification phase and only to the best athletes in phase two.
  • Team Unicorn suggested a new mass sport competition for the Olympics, including the four sports of running, rowing, cycling and weightlifting. During the exercise, the participants would produce storable energy through their individual performance. The country that generates the most electricity would win an Olympic gold medal.
  • Team Scooter proposed to co-host the 2035 Olympics in the European cities of Amsterdam, Brussels and Cologne, to form synergies between the three countries to fund and stage the Games. The concept also foresees the Paralympics to be integrated into the Olympics. Olympic trains would transport athletes and spectators from one location to the next. By organising an amateur sport event open to everyone, people could feel like an Olympian.

Review the entire pitch contest here.

Daniel Dos Santos, member of the winning team “Champagne”, said: “The Haskins Innovation Challenge 2021 was an enlightening and exciting experience to test our classroom knowledge in an innovative competitive setting. We are all passionate about reinventing the multi-sport event as a youthful, sustainable, and legacy focused event utilising more technology, and we are very happy that our metaverse concept was well received.” He added: “The Challenge forced us to think in a more disruptive and innovative way, and we were delighted to present an idea that we truly believe will become a reality in the future. In that regard, we really wanted to thank our mentor that helped us challenge the status quo.”

Christian Müller, CEO of Infront’s digital arm Infront X, who mentored one of the students’ groups, said: “I really was positively surprised by the enthusiasm and out-of-the box thinking of the young students. I am looking forward to having such bright and innovative people in the industry soon.”

For Mike Kurt, President of Swiss University Sports, “the Haskins Innovation Challenge is a great example of how Lucerne 2021 will leave a long-term legacy for Swiss sport despite the cancellation of the Winter Universiade.” He said: “This project enabled us to build strong relationships with students and academics and it triggered many innovative ideas of how to develop future sport events, which are appealing to young audiences and sustainable at the same time. In my view, that’s really the way to move forward!”

Designed by students for students, the 2021 Haskins Innovation Challenge was co-organised by the Haskins Sport Society, the HUB Entrepreneurship and Innovation of UNIL, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Swiss University Sports, ThinkSport, and with the support of FISU. Following this year’s success, the 2022 edition is already in the planning stage!