Cranfield University recently hosted the second Unilever Innovation Accelerator, an opportunity for its students to develop solutions to business challenges and to contribute to the development of the next generation of ice cream and tea products.

The winning team, Zinda Tea (Muriel Isabelle Hagenaars, Celia Hazi, Shreyas Khanore and Tsepiso Mlambisa) was rewarded with the first prize of £5,000. The runners-up were KAM and Ice Cream Yes!  

Andy Sztehlo, Unilever Global R&D Vice President, Ice Cream, commented: “We have had a long-standing collaboration with Cranfield University and this competition has been a great opportunity to deepen our relationship and to explore new partnership opportunities. We were delighted with the enthusiasm to work on our ice cream and tea innovation agenda and the quality of the work done by the teams. It was a great event with some exciting ideas that we will explore further with the winning teams.”

The hard-fought competition commenced with 17 mixed-skilled teams from across the University. The students were presented with four real-life challenges by Unilever’s ice cream and tea research and development experts. These were then shortlisted to the most promising nine teams. They spent six weeks developing their innovative solutions with intensive coaching support from Cranfield’s Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship and its Centre for Competitive and Creative Design, together with individual mentoring from Unilever.

Expert judges

In a close-run finale, the nine teams had just seven minutes to pitch their ideas to an executive judging panel of ice cream, tea and commercialisation experts from Unilever and Cranfield.

Professor David Denyer, Professor of Leadership and Organisational Change at Cranfield University, said: “All the student teams produced very strong pitches that demonstrated what Cranfield does best, bringing technology and management together. We are extremely grateful for the support that Unilever continues to provide to our students.”

winning team with competition organisers
Winning team Zinda Tea with the organisers

Notes for editors

Winners: Zinda Tea - Muriel Isabelle  Hagenaars; Celia Hazi; Shreyas Khanore; Tsepiso Mlambisa

Runners up: KAM - Melissa Ortiz; Kalyani Hegde; Fernando Rubio
Ice Cream Yes! - Yiping Chen; Yijing Ji; Peter Xia; Yajing Zheng

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.