Computer Science student crowned winner of Unilever Innovation Challenge to ‘Help get rid of plastics’

Unilever Innovation Challenge

In October 2018, the University’s Careers & Employability Service partnered with Unilever to set up an Enterprise competition – the Unilever Innovation Challenge – Help get rid of plastics!

Unilever was keen to hear how our students could help Unilever Homecare get rid of, or drastically reduce their plastic usage within their packaging division.

It was an exclusive chance for University of Liverpool students to pitch their ideas and help make a difference to Unilever’s plastic footprint.

The aim of the competition was to break down the myth around enterprise for students. Enterprise isn’t just about starting your own business, or being the next Richard Branson. To be enterprising and innovative requires a certain skill-set such as; problem solving, opportunity spotting, innovation and creativity, and all are highly valued by employers.

Unilever Innovation Challenge

The competition launched in October and was open for six weeks. Students were required to submit a form via Careerhub answering a series of questions to explain their idea, as well as address how it would logistically work. There were 44 submissions, these entries were reviewed by Unilever, and four lucky students, Cara Hawkins, Edmund Morris, Jake Barrett-Shaw and Nachilila Kaluba, were shortlisted and invited to the final pitch.

The final pitch was held on Thursday, 14 February within the Materials, Innovation Factory Building (MIF). The finalists pitched their idea to a panel of judges from Unilever and the University which also included a Dragon’s Den-style Q&A session.

The finalists all delivered exceptional pitches to a very high standard, but in the end Nachilila Kaluba, a third year Computer Science student was crowned the winner.

Nachilila’s winning idea

Nachilila’s idea was based around the psychology of changing Unilever’s consumer behaviour, as well as their attitude towards the global plastic issue crisis. This included creating an educational platform focused on plastic in schools, upcycling and creating an international customer community website. This website had an integrated loyalty system and considered the demographic differences between the countries of Unilever’s customers.

The judging panel commented: “We picked Nachi’s pitch because she understood the consumer problem and really thought about how to change people’s behaviour when it comes to plastic and recycling. Her website solution with ‘how-to’ reuse is very creative and has a global application, which we really appreciate”.

Unilever Innovation Challenge

Congratulations to the finalists for making it to the final, and well done to the deserved winner Nachilila who won £500 in vouchers! All finalists demonstrated a passion for the topic and further developed a range of enterprise skills highly valued by employers.

If you are interested in getting involved in enterprise projects,  keep an eye out for our next competition launching at the 2019 Spring Careers Fair on the Wednesday, 6 March.