Full Circle: Circular Economy Case Competition Names Winner

Finals week of the Global Retail Challenge

After 6 weeks of virtual competition, 15 student teams from 6 countries convened at McGill University in Montreal, Canada for the Finals Weekend of the Global Retail Challenge.

Students who arrived early got the chance to visit local hotspot, Foodchain, a vegan restaurant designed for efficiency to hear about Foodchain’s unique origin and operating model from Jean-Francois Saine. Next, they stopped by Lole, where they heard from the chief operating officer, Nicholas Beetz, about the company’s culture and their focus on sustainability.

Teams met in-person at the opening ceremonies before jumping into workshops around financials, sustainability & the circular economy, as well as a crash course in presentation skills. The day also featured two executive panels:
  • How large companies are pivoting toward a more sustainable future, moderated by Accenture and featuring ALDO Group and Nespresso
  • Sustainability in local entrepreneurship, moderated by the Retail Council of Canada featuring YUMi Organics, Frank & Oak, and GOODDEE

A highlight of this year’s competition was our speed networking session, during which students had the opportunity to meet fellow participants, sponsors, and retail leaders. The format allowed each student a chance to learn about the different opportunities within the retail industry and sponsors were able to meet the next generation of retail talent. Sponsors also left with a resume book that showcased each student.
On Saturday, student teams had their chance to present to panels of judges over two rounds. Judges included executives from Accenture, Ardrene, lululemon, Qurate, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Sephora, RILA, and McGill professors. Our variety of judges enforced that this unique competition combines the need for business acumen, an understanding of the circular economy and the retail industry, as well as an entrepreneurial spirit to drive their projects forward.

A field of 15 finalist teams was narrowed down to 7 teams, based on a combined semi-final presentation score added to their overall 6-week virtual coursework scores. The finalist teams, in the order they presented:
  • Columbia University
  • Ohio State University
  • University of Calgary
  • McGill University
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Florida State University
  • University of Arizona
To celebrate the culmination of all our GRC participants' hard work and dedication over the last 7 weeks of competition, students, sponsors, the GRC leadership team, and more gathered for the GRC banquet. At the end of the night, we named the winners.
  • 1st place: Florida State University, for its Garment Library which converts donated clothing and allows shoppers to take advantage of different tier memberships to “check-out” items of clothing.
  • 2nd place: McGill University, for their stainless-steel mascara packaging and refillable instore stations.
  • 3rd place: Columbia University, for their idea to transform discarded furniture into a new, resin-based modular furniture piece.
This year’s GRC Competition was made possible by Accenture, Ardene, Columbia Sportswear, lululemon, Michael Kors, Nordstrom, Qurate Retail Group, Sephora, UL, and Walgreen Boots Alliance. In addition to support from our sponsors, students also recieved subject matter expert mentorship throughout the competition from Accenture, Columbia Sportswear, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, GreenBiz Group, IKEA US, lululemon, Nordstrom, Qurate Retail Group, and REI.

Learn more information on the Global Retail Challenge and opportunities to get involved here.

Take a look back at the last six weeks:
Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6

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