Today, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), the trade association for America’s largest and most innovative retail brands, announced its first-ever (R)Tech Global Retail Challenge in partnership with the Bensadoun School of Retail Management at McGill University. The case competition will ask students around the world to develop creative ideas for reshaping retail in the circular economy. The Challenge has attracted two great sponsors: VF Corporation and Canadian Tire Corporation. The competition will culminate with a world-class final event in Montreal hosted by McGill University in November.
RILA launched the (R)Tech Center for Innovation in 2017. Since its launch, the Center has focused on helping retailers navigate the industry’s transformation through authoritative research, connecting retailers to innovative technologies and ventures, and assisting the industry in creating cultures of innovation. Specifically, the (R)Tech Center for Innovation empowers retail innovation chiefs and exposes other executives to the technologies and innovations driving change in retail.
“Since its inception, RILA and the Center have been focused on helping retailers solve grand retail challenges and drive their businesses into the future,” said Adam Siegel, senior vice president of innovation for RILA. “We are thrilled to partner with McGill University and universities across the globe. We are confident this competition will open students to the opportunities within retail and foster meaningful solutions that can help shape the future of our industry and its contribution to the circular economy.”
“Through our new Bensadoun School of Retail Management, we have the opportunity to partner with organizations such as RILA to tackle the pressing issues surrounding retail and Grand Challenges facing our societies,” said Dean Isabelle Bajeux, Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University. “The (R)Tech Global Retail Challenge exposes students to one of these Grand Challenges: sustainability and the circular economy. Teams will be equipped to find innovative solutions that could lead to new entrepreneurial ventures. This competition will showcase the future of retail from the next generation of industry leaders.”
RILA and McGill have invited over 90 universities from around the world to join the Challenge. Each participating university will develop 1-2 student teams under the guidance of a relevant faculty advisor. These teams will be charged with finding solutions to accelerate young consumers’ participation in scalable circular economies for retail and consumer products.
The challenge will start in early fall with the teams applying design thinking over the course of 6 weeks. These sessions will be animated by Karen Hold, a Design Thinking expert. The teams will then gather at McGill University for a finals weekend on November 15-17, 2018. Finalists will be judged by executives from sponsor companies, together with retail and circular economy experts. The finals will be held in conjunction with the official launch of the Bensadoun School of Retail Management on November 16th.
The Challenge is the centerpiece of RILA’s groundbreaking collaboration with Intel and universities from all corners of North America to help create a robust retail-tech talent pipeline.
“We are excited to participate in the first-ever (R)Tech Global Retail Challenge, to be held in our home country. As a proud Canadian retailer with over 95 years of retail excellence, Canadian Tire has continued to evolve in a rapidly changing retail landscape to become one of the country’s most recognized retail brands,” said Robyn Collver, Chief Sustainability Officer, Canadian Tire Corporation. “We are looking forward to continuing to drive retail innovation by welcoming the future of retail talent to Montreal later this year.”
About the Retail Industry Leaders Association
RILA is the trade association of the world's largest and most innovative retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs, and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities, and distribution centers domestically and abroad.
About McGill University and the Bensadoun School of Retail Management:
Situated in Montreal, the Best Student City according to the 2017 QS rankings, McGill University is one of Canada's best-known institutions of higher learning and one of the leading universities in the world. With students coming to McGill from some 150 countries, its student body is the most internationally diverse of any research-intensive university in the country.
Coming at a time of monumental change in the retail industry, a major gift from the Bensadoun Family Foundation has led to the creation of the Bensadoun School of Retail Management. The School aims to be the world premier academic institution dedicated to the future of retail - building on the global reputation of the Faculty of Management and leveraging McGill’s deep multi-disciplinary expertise in domains like artificial intelligence, big data, neuroscience and agroindustry, An important focus of the work of the school will be on enabling sustainable consumption and healthier societies.