GCU rises to UN Sustainable Development Goals challenge

21 November 2016

The Challenge helps businesses meet the Sustainable Development Goals

The Challenge helps businesses meet the Sustainable Development Goals

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) students are embracing a sustainable development challenge set by major multinational companies.

Ten global businesses – including Japanese technology firm Fuji Xerox, Spanish energy giants Iberdrola, Swiss food producers Nestle, and Danish healthcare company Novo Nordisk – are participating in the UN-backed Breakthrough Innovation Challenge.

Each organisation has set a sector-specific challenge to students, requiring creative solutions and an innovative business model in support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, 17 ambitious targets to transform the world by 2030.

As a member of the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative, GCU students have the opportunity to form an inter-disciplinary team and put forward their innovative solutions.

The challenge was outlined at the Global Compact LEAD Symposium in Cambridge, where GCU representatives heeded the call.

Dr Alec Wersun, from the Glasgow School for Business and Society, said: “These breakthrough innovation challenges offer GCU students and staff a wonderful opportunity to use their knowledge and know-how in engineering, computing, healthcare and business to contribute to solving some of the world’s greatest problems. In doing so, it will give our students an amazing real-world experience and fits perfectly with our Common Good mission.”

Solutions to the challenge should adopt disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things – a process which connects appliances to the internet; or simply innovative ways of widening access to millions with no access to healthcare, or energy.

“This is a unique opportunity for our students to take part in an international competition and develop disruptive solutions that could resolve global issues,” added Professor Vassilis Charissis, Professor of Human Computer Interaction in the School of Engineering and Built Environment.

“Our students are already well versed in the use of advanced and emerging technologies that could enable them to develop ground breaking projects for sustainable environments; energy, medicine and mobility among other areas. This is an excellent case for real-life collaboration between the different schools and disciplines.”

The best ideas from university teams will be developed with support from the multinational companies and presented in New York in September 2017.

GCU was the first Scottish university to join the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative.