We had a total of 225 participants from 102 teams in 12 countries taking part in finding innovative solutions to industry issues. Throughout the process, teams were given access to industry experts to provide feedback and mentoring. The challenge was hosted on Agorize, a digital platform designed to host large-scale, open innovation challenges from beginning to end.  

The winners will be awarded:
  • An international internship 
  • A prestigious award 
  • A certificate for each team member of the global winners
  • A ceremony lunch or dinner  in the winners’ home country
  • Local celebrations

This year’s competition tackled the HaFa (hankies and facials) sector, which is experiencing real-world challenges in two major areas: Marketing and Engineering. The submissions were judged by a panel of senior Essity experts based on originality, creativity, relevance, impact and feasibility.

The Marketing Challenge was to find a way to encourage consumers to purchase hankies outside of the cold and allergy seasons and to increase the frequency with which to use them. A target audience of women aged 25-45, that care about the well-being of their family.  

The winning team was Le Trio Infernal with Carmen De Cordoue, Inès Leroux and Lisa Guyo from ESSEC Business School in France. Le Trio Infernal chose to target mothers with small children and toddlers with their submission entitled ‘Duo & Go’. They designed a package that would incorporate both wet and dry hankies into one easy package. The idea being that kids want to explore and get messy, but it is difficult for mothers to know which napkins to bring in their bags. With Duo & Go, mothers need not worry as dry hankies can be used for nose blowing and wet hankies for spills and messy hands. The winning group also proposed the idea that the hankies were reduced in size to match the small stature of children, which would encourage single use. This is healthier for the consumer and acts as a volume sales growth generator. 

The Engineering Challenge was aimed at reducing the thickness of the package, while maintaining ease of use and reducing the environmental impact of the packaging. At present, there is little difference between brands in the way hankies are packaged. Most commonly, consumers are presented with a pocket-sized plastic bag containing between 7 and 10 hankies per pack with little variation between thickness of the overall product. 

Daniela Silva and Andrea Ochoa from the University of Barcelona in Spain formed the andesignerds to take first place for their ‘I’m Your Bodyguard’ submission. They reduced the thickness of the hanky by zigzagging the tissues into each other and maintained the ease of use component by placing them inside an envelope style package. This allowed the pack to fit inside pockets and take up less space in handbags. The eco-friendly element of the challenge was tackled by utilizing a combination of natural Kraft paper and bio-degradable plastic. Kraft paper is a product made from wood pulp that is stronger and more environmentally friendly than regular paper. This is because it is not bleached, which reduces the strength of paper. The chemicals used in Kraft paper processing can also be re-used, so the production cycle reduces waste. At present, most hankies are packaged in single-use, non-biodegradable plastic which is contributing to a number of environmental issues in our oceans. 

From the team at Essity, we would like to extend a warm thank you to all partnering universities, students, mentors and judges who participated in this year’s challenge and look forward to seeing our internship recipients around the office. We are excited to see what next year’s challenge holds!