Winners of TCS’ UK Sustainability Competition Offered Coveted TCS Internship

Tata Consultancy Services’ annual competition titled "Sustainathon" invited students from universities across the UK and Ireland to create digital solutions to address sustainability challenges. Team Sustainapreneurs from the Hult International Business School have won the 2023 TCS UK and Ireland (UK&I) Sustainathon, with backing from Daisy Narayanan MBE, Head of Placemaking & Mobility, City of Edinburgh.
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The Sustainathon is a problem-solving competition that asks university students across the UK and Ireland to address real world business sustainability challenges by creating innovative digital solutions. Now in its third year, the 2023 TCS Sustainathon attracted 70 teams registering from 31 universities.

The number of universities represented in the 2023 competition has more than doubled, growing from 12 universities in 2022 to 31 universities in 2023, including 4 universities from Ireland for the first time. Student registrations also grew by around 63%, from 156 participants registering in 2022, to 255 in 2023. Judges at the 2023 Sustainathon included John McKiernan – Head of Innovation Pipeline, ESB; Alison Butler – Sustainability Manager, BBC Group; Anna Leonard – Head of Supplier Management, Teachers’ Pension Scheme, Department for Education; and Andrew Horton – Director of Digital, Partnerships & Innovation, British Council.

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The challenges were set by TCS’ customers: AiB Life, Cardiff Council, JLR, Nationwide Building Society and Primark. The month-long programme offered expert guidance and tuition in the form of webinars, masterclasses and drop-in mentoring sessions, as the teams competed to solve their chosen challenge.

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The winning idea from Team Sustainapreneurs was submitted in response to the challenge set by Primark, which tasked students to design innovative technology solutions which would enable brands to improve the circularity and lifespan of their products. The team’s solution involved mapping out a concept to return clothing items for recycling and reuse. The runners up were Team Green Pandas from The London School of Economics and Political Science, who responded to Cardiff Council’s challenge on food sustainability and positively influencing young people to cook.

Sustainathon judge Daisy Narayanan MBE, Head of Placemaking & Mobility, City of Edinburgh, said: “My mantra is always of collaboration, and I will take back many ideas from the TCS Sustainathon for my own reflections as a city leader. No single sector or group has all answers to climate and net zero challenges of today. We need more initiatives such as TCS Sustainathon, which brings communities, businesses and young minds together to design emerging technology innovations, so public sector leaders such as us can enable decisions that stand the test of time.”

Winners Dhafi Irsan and George Brus, said: “Sustainability, in all its forms, is going to become even more prevalent in years to come. The Primark challenge enabled us to tackle a challenge nobody has yet solved - making fast fashion sustainable.”

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“We’re proud to have joined the TCS Sustainathon and create an innovative proposition that real companies could potentially use. We are also grateful for the opportunity to work with real professionals in the industry to show what we have got to offer.”

Gopalan Rajagopalan, Head of TCS Scotland commented: “TCS is deeply committed to addressing environmental challenges and building sustainable futures through innovation and adoption of digital technologies. The TCS Sustainathon 2023 was the third edition of our flagship sustainability event and involved some of the best-known brands in the country, setting real-world sustainability challenges. We were pleased to have had some of the best and brightest students from across UK and Ireland universities participate this year and the quality of their presentation was very impressive. With Sustainability being a rapidly growing sector offering exciting and creative opportunities for young people, we hope our competition has encouraged some of the students to consider it as a career choice.”

“TCS Sustainathon continues to advance boldly towards making a responsible impact on the UK’s economy,” commented Piyali Sen, Head of Sustainability and ESG Business, TCS UK&I. “In the spirit of accelerating the UK’s net zero target with the power of co-innovation, macro business and consumer sustainability challenges set by the UK’s prominent businesses were met with emerging technology innovations by university students nationwide. At Sustainathon, every team is a winner.”

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