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Ontario Tech students impress in international consumer packaged goods innovation competition

Commerce, Information Technology students earn second spot at SAP Mars University Challenge

Ontario Tech's SAP University Challenge team (from left): Tina Cloutier, Christopher Niemela, Kareem Olatinwo, Ryan Romig and Zackary Young.
Ontario Tech's SAP University Challenge team (from left): Tina Cloutier, Christopher Niemela, Kareem Olatinwo, Ryan Romig and Zackary Young.

Against a field of university students from the United States, Germany and Switzerland, five Ontario Tech University students in the Faculty of Business and Information Technology proved they are among the world’s best when it comes to helping an established business promote its products to a younger generation.

The students in FBIT’s Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Information Technology programs put their skills, knowledge and creativity to the test in the 2021 SAP University Challenge. SAP is one of the world’s largest software companies that help business run their operations.

The Ontario Tech students’ pitch

The business idea, for candy manufacturer Mars Incorporated (which produces well-known items such as M&M’s chocolate, Excel gum and Skittles, as well as many other well-known products for pets and people), won second place in the competition.

The Ontario Tech students hypothesized that Generation Z and Millennials like to feel they’ve contributed to something good and important in their world. The idea was to find a way to connect emotionally with the needs, wants and aspirations of younger markets. They discovered 81 per cent of respondents supported the notion of uploading their product purchase receipts to an app, if that allowed them to earn loyalty points that can be converted to money for donations to a charity of their choice.

The system reinforces loyalty to the company’s brand among a key demographic, improves the company’s image, and both sides emerge feeling positive about doing something to help a third party in need. Customers get to connect with fellow buyers to share insights and ideas. This platform would also allow Mars to collect information on their customers’ preferences and implement changes that fulfil targeted preferences.

Ontario Tech’s student team 
  • Tina Cloutier, fourth-year Tech Management major, Commerce
  • Christopher Niemela, second-year Tech Management major, Information Technology
  • Kareem Olatinwo, third-year Tech Management major, Commerce
  • Ryan Romig, fourth-year Tech Management major, Commerce
  • Zackary Young, second-year Tech Management major, Information Technology

Our team wanted to gain experience pitching ideas as well as experience working with current challenges organizations face that can be solved with the application of new, emerging technological solutions. Competing at a global level, under high pressure was a great experience for all of us. We learned a lot about the consumer packaged goods industry and the problems companies within the industry face. We’d like to thank our mentor, Thomas Ettlich from SAP, and SAP and Mars for hosting the competition and providing us with the resources to be successful.”
-Ryan Romig, Ontario Tech student team member, SAP University Challenge

“We are exceptionally proud of the success of students, not just for their creativity, but also for how they found a terrific way to apply technology in such an ethical manner in the modern business environment. They placed ahead of many bigger and globally regarded universities and MBA students, putting Ontario Tech University in some very impressive international company. This competition gave our undergraduate Technology Management students an amazing experience working with senior executives at Mars and SAP!”
-Dr. Michael Bliemel, Dean, Faculty of Business and Information Technology, Ontario Tech University