Eco-Vangelists develop intelligent packaging solution

By Valent Cheung and Nevis Lee
Nevis Lee (second left), Valent Cheung (second right) and their teammates

BBA Global Business Systems Management students Valent Cheung and Nevis Lee develop ground-breaking intelligent packaging solution for Finnish company.

At the last minute, five members of a littleknown team called Eco-Vangelists decided to apply for the Accenture Digital Innovation Challenge (ADIC) in October 2016. Little did they know they would end up being the Case Day Winner of the competition. They went on to present at Slush, the largest European business startup conference, and interest their Finnish partner company Stora Enso, a leading provider of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wood and paper, in their innovative solutions.

The team consisted of two BBA Global Business Systems Management students, Valent and Nevis of the Department of Information Systems, who teamed up with three overseas students from the London School of Economics, and the Australian National University. They had all got to know one another during an exchange programme at Aalto University School of Business, Helsinki.

Cutting waste

On the Case Day, the team pitched their business proposal to the judges, competing with 20 other teams. After a vigorous competition, Eco-Vangelists were awarded the Case Day Winner title, and were selected as one of seven finalists to compete for a grand prize of EUR 10,000 at Slush in December 2016. Slush has grown into a major event and last year brought together over 17,500 attendees from over 120 countries for the two-day event in Helsinki. Eco-Vangelists didn't come out as winners that day, but their project concept is highly valued by Stora Enso, who plan to turn it into a real business solution.

Eco-Vangelists have created a solution to develop a secondary market for reselling apparel via a reselling platform. The solution includes smart lockers that can provide product authentication by sensors including Near Field Communication (NFC) with intelligent apparel packaging. This will help retailers handle returns more efficiently and sustainably. The solution is projected to eliminate waste of return goods by 20-40% of total inventory sold.

Ground-breaking solution

Stora Enso's Intelligent Packaging team supported Eco-Vangelists in polishing their solution and providing business market insights.

"We see tremendous potential in working with young talents like the Eco-Vangelists team. Their ADIC16 solution combines intelligent packaging technologies with new mobile phone readers and applications, and scalable cloud-based software solutions. Such an approach shows the way to ground-breaking intelligent packaging solutions," said Juha Maijala, Director Intelligent Packaging at Stora Enso, Division Consumer Board.

First started as a Swedish mining and forestry products company, Stora and Finnish forestry products company Enso Oyj, merged in 1998 to become the present Stora Enso. The company pursues research and development on biomaterials and intelligent packaging.

Adding value

Stora Enso has been cooperating with NXP, a market leader in RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and NFC, to build their intelligent packaging for clients. Eco-Vangelists' solution effectively utilises the company's existing partnerships, has potential for building new partnerships with firms that have high return rate of goods, enhances the company's emphasis on social responsibility, and opens up new revenue streams and business opportunities for the company once the reselling platform is set up.

Eco-Vangelists managed to form a comprehensive proposal assisted by visualization tools including Eco-Vangelists managed to form a comprehensive proposal assisted by visualization tools including motion graphics and workable solution app, even though there was no requirement to make it a realistic commercial solution. Valent was in charge of visualizing the ideas into practical solutions, "I always try to make personal breakthroughs and set standards to others during my involvement in any events or organizations. The sky is NOT a limit."

Innovation philosophy

Valent and Nevis both believe new-age innovation comes from the merger of new technologies and existing societal patterns. It offers age-old ideas with new twists. Airbnb combines a sharing platform with accommodation search, MoneySQ merges sharing platform with money lending, and Eco- Vangelists' solution mixes a sharing platform with returned goods.

After this competition, both students intend to continue learning from and giving back to society. Valent has recently begun to explore possibilities to foster social inclusion of minorities and the elderly in Hong Kong, using digital innovations. "I think it is time to use my acquired skills to contribute back to the community." And Nevis says: "I hope I can make Hong Kong a better place for everyone by using my creativity."