When AI and Tech Make the Paris Olympic Games More Sustainable10 May 2023
What if AI could support waste collection and international events could be the window of such innovations? This is the winning idea pitched by students from Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungary and the Netherlands, who took part in the Grand Finale of the SciTech Challenge, earlier this week in Brussels.
The Sci-Tech Challenge, a collaboration between ExxonMobil and JA Europe, aims to empower young people to tackle the challenges of tomorrow by using a combination of entrepreneurship and STEM skills. The 2023 Grand Finale brought together the winners of the national Sci-Tech challenges, that took place this year in Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungary and the Netherlands.
The final competition brought together 30 students and challenged them to make the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris in 2024 more sustainable. Supported by mentors from ExxonMobil, the students had a day and half to come up with the best service or product to help use and manage plastics at a large public event like the Olympics.
The jury, composed of Nikolaas Baeckelmans, Vice President European Union Affairs at ExxonMobil Europe; Xavier Milcent, EU/AP Advanced Recycling Ventures Commercial Manager, New Market Development at ExxonMobil; Francis Huysman, Managing Director of Valipac and Lucia Palmegiani, Policy Officer, DG Enterprise and Industry at the European Commission selected the idea presented by Jasmijn, Nikolaos, Mare, Robert and Sven. The students proposed a consumer-incentivised model to collect food waste and track customer behaviour with AI and an app.
Following the student pitches, a panel representing the public and private sectors shared wisdom with the students. They discussed their educational and professional journeys, their learnings over the years, their current occupations in Brussels, and passion for science, math and engineering.
In a message addressing the finalists, the European Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean said that, “As we celebrate the European Year of Skills, opportunities like the Sci-Tech Challenge give young Europeans the space to develop and grow the skills they need today and tomorrow. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are and will be at the core of future proof solutions we need for a more efficient, resilient and sustainable transport system.”
Philippe Ducom, President of ExxonMobil Europe, said that “The power to continue to innovate depends on nurturing the next generation of scientists and engineers; young people with science, technology and mathematics experience who will shape the future and work to develop solutions to the challenges of tomorrow. I am proud of ExxonMobil’s contribution every year to help hundreds of students discover these fascinating subjects and am delighted that I am given the opportunity to share my passion for STEM with young people from across Europe.”
Salvatore Nigro, CEO of JA Europe, said that: “The European youth has talent, and great ambition to solve the challenges faced by our societies. By giving them an opportunity like the Sci-Tech Challenge, we are building a better, stronger Europe.”
About JA Europe
JA Europe is the largest and leading organisation in Europe dedicated to inspire and prepare young people to succeed. For over 100 years, JA Worldwide has delivered hands-on, experiential learning in entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial health. In 2023, JA Worldwide was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, for the second year in a row. In the last school year, the JA Europe network provided over 6.6 million learning experiences for youth in online, in person and blended formats.
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