Bachelor students from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) received the first prize at the first IE Business School BBA Business Challenge 2019, which took place at IE Business School in Madrid and Segovia, Spain from 19-22 February 2019.  

“Winning an international case competition is a testament to how business savvy our students are. I’ve seen the team grow much in such a short period and I never been so proud of my students,” said RSM’s PhD candidate Lance Cosaert, who coaches and supervises the team of bachelor students.

Students Mate Pocs, Saleh Dadkhahipour, Luca La Porta and Chloé Fleury, and their faculty supervisor Lance Cosaert – all part of the RSM STAR Case Society – received the first prize at the BBA International Case Competition organised by IE Business School in Madrid and Segovia.

Strategy for sustainable business

Students from business schools from eight countries warmed up with a four-hour case study for Audi. For the main 24-hour competition, the student teams explored specific challenges for companies with a sustainable profile when they grow, and how sustainable fashion organisation Ecoalf can best address these challenges. The students acted as a team of consultants to advise the board of Ecoalf about their strategy for the next five years. They were asked to pay specific attention to whether to invest more in online retailing or in street shops, and if Ecoalf should consider introducing other products to its portfolio.

With just 1.5 hours of sleep and a plan of action, the RSM team made it to the final on 22 February, and showed the audience and jury members from IE Business School and Ecoalf how well-thought their strategy was. The judges consisted of professionals from Ecoalf and academics from IE Business School.

Recycling infrastructure

The RSM students’ main solution was to produce in Turkey, as there’s an extensive textile industry, a strong recycling infrastructure, direct access to plastic waste in the Mediterranean Sea, and enhance the recycling process with the long-term goal to gain access to local fishermen to maximise community impact. The team also recommended to expand retail through ‘real’ stories so customers can see and touch the product before buying it, as people might ‘distrust’ clothes from recycled plastic. This can be divided to Ecoalf’s own stores, and expansion through big department stores.

“The RSM students understood and structurally dissected underlying problems and found a tailored-fit solution which included aspects related to outsourcing abroad and recommendations about Ecoalf’s product portfolio,” said Cosaert.

The jury found the RSM’s team’s plan realistic, and were impressed that they looked at it from the perspective of potential customers which may lead to increase sales. RSM also suggested to maintain the amount of products in the product line, and emphasised ways to increase the societal impact.

International and corporate perspectives

The RSM team from the BSc International Business Administration programme competed against business students from universities in China, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Australia, the USA, and Spain.

“This was a great learning experience for the students,” said Cosaert. “They got involved in real-life business problems, which gives them insight into corporate life. They also worked together towards a common goal, and networked with other students and corporates.”

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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