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2023 Sport Innovation Challenge tackles the potential organisation of the Olympic Winter Games in Switzerland

More than 200 curious and innovative minds gathered last weekend in Lausanne to kick off together the 2023 Sport Innovation Challenge, organised jointly by ThinkSport and Swiss University Sports, in partnership with Swiss Olympic. The crowd included 48 teams of students, ready to work on ideas for the potential organisation of the Olympic Winter Games in Switzerland as of 2030. Over the next two months, these teams will work on solutions addressing the following pressing questions:

  • How can the Olympic Winter Games help create a new generation of leaders and talents?
  • How can the Olympic Winter Games generate long-term benefits for the tourism industry in Switzerland?
  • How can Switzerland help repositioning the Olympic Winter Games and be a Game Changer?
  • How to manage such complex and decentralised project and major event in a diverse environment like Switzerland?

More than 40 mentors, all experts from the sports industry, will support this future generation of sport leaders during the development of their projects. The Challenge participants come from six different schools in the field of sport management (FFHS, HES-SO, HSLU, AISTS, SMS and UNIL), located across Switzerland.

Milena Kaeslin, expert for sport sciences at Swiss Olympic, kicked off the day and shared her organisation’s vision for Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Switzerland as of 2030. She outlined the purpose and contents of a recent feasibility study and explained the above listed problematics in more detail to the participants. Kaeslin stressed that sustainability will be at the heart of any potential Olympic project by Swiss Olympic and gave several examples how this could be realised.

The introduction by Swiss Olympic was followed by a number of engaging presentations:
Simone Righenzi, co-managing Director and Head of Elite Sports at Swiss University Sports and previously Head of Sport and IF Relations at the Organising Committee of the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) shared his Games experience.  Junjie Lie, Project Manager at the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) explained the role of the different stakeholders in the organization of Olympic Games whereas Stefan Kürten, media expert at the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), presented on the role of broadcasting during the Games. Simona Castro, three-time Olympian in artistic gymnastics, previous participant in the Sport Innovation Challenge and now an intern at the International Olympic Committee (IOC), then shared her perspective as an Olympian on all the different aspects discussed.

During a subsequent workshop, Vincent Ducret, Associate Principal at Change Logic, explained on how to “close the problem space”, providing valuable advise to the students on how to start tackling the challenges they receive and engage in structured exploration. He suggested a two-step process, first fully understanding the problems of the customers that need to be addressed before looking into solutions. Ducret has been working in the innovation and transformation space for the last 12 years. An EPFL graduate now based in Boston, he advises big companies on how to grow beyond their core business.

The event was moderated by Ana Jelušić Black, a three-time Olympian in alpine skiing.

Click here to check out all images of the day.

What’s next?
Next stops for the student teams are two online workshops in October and in November on “creativity, ideation, and value proposition” and on  “de-risking ideas”; and the final battle on 14 December, from 17h00 to 20h00 at Gotham in Lausanne. The final will be open to the public with mandatory registration under this link. The winning team will receive free tickets to THE SPOT next year as well as to a surprise major sport event.