Exploring the Intersection of Design and Business - Finale of Nordic Business and Design Case Competition 2018

Building bridges between Nordic companies and Asian growth markets whilst introducing the next generation of bright Asian minds to Design Thinking

By Lifestyle Guide

December 28 2018

In its second year running, the Nordic Business and Design Case Competition 2018 (NBDC 2018) organised by Design Finland 100 was recently concluded on the 8th of December at the Wärtsilä Acceleration Centre in Singapore.

With real-world case studies provided by some of the top Nordic organisations such as Fazer and Altia, teams from over thirty universities in Southeast Asia were asked to come up with innovative solutions integrated with design thinking for their assigned case over a period of one week.

The participants' learning journey required a deep understanding of the case company's current product offering, market dynamics and unique selling propositions - critical elements in solving the puzzle of how the company's products will 'fit' the Asian market. 

The teams also had to look at the concept of design from the branding perspective in terms of how design could bring about greater differentiation for a product or service, create desirable traits and have aspirational features whether in a B2B (Business-to-Business) or B2C (Business-to-Consumer) industry.

Designing these business solutions not only helped participants to learn more about the Nordics, they also provided critical on-the-ground perspectives for case companies to better understand the potential market opportunities and go-to-market strategies in entering Southeast Asia. 

Beatrice Ng from National University of Singapore (NUS) commented, "I enjoyed the process thoroughly; In part because it allowed me to revisit Nordic culture, design and ideas which I was very keen on learning about because of my recent exchange programme in Copenhagen. This case provided that platform to explore technical case skills, along with the space to explore design thinking - an element I felt is not common in other cases!"

The learning journey for participants continued even after submission of their case report with the opportunity to meet other teams and various representatives from the case companies at the finale to have further discussions about the case issues and solutions. 

Talk by Guest-of-Honour Professor Desai Arcot at the Nordic Business and Design Case Competition 2018 Finale 

With a background in branding research for the past 20 years and having published three books on branding, Professor Kirsti Lindberg-Repo, the founder of Design Finland 100, has had extensive experience in both academia and business as a passionate brand enthusiast and recognised expert.

As a visiting professor to Singapore Management University since 2013, Professor Kirsti enjoyed working with bright Asian students and thereafter decided to organise the Nordic Business and Design Case Competition to expose student participants to design thinking integrated with business considerations. 

At the same time, the case competition serves as a platform to connect the Nordic region and Southeast Asia together, raising international awareness and recognition for Nordic brands seeking new growth opportunities in the region.

”Our aim with this competition is to build bridges between Nordic companies and Asian growth markets and introduce the next generation of bright Asian minds to design thinking”, says Professor Kirsti Lindberg-Repo.

This initiative follows in the footsteps of the establishment of the Nordic Innovation House, a soft landing incubator for Nordic entrepreneurs and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), in Singapore to foster greater ties between the regions. 

Combined together, these efforts help support Nordic brands in viewing Southeast Asia as a good target market for their products and services while positioning Singapore as a strategic location to find important partners for international expansion.

Professor Kirsti Lindberg-Repo (center) with Beatrice Tan (left) and Pancy Tan (right), winners of the Most Inspirational Award at the Nordic Business and Design Case Competition 2018

In contrast to other case competitions, participants also expressed how they enjoyed the greater freedom and flexibility they had in approaching the business case, which aligned with the essence of design thinking in adopting a human centred approach to craft a holistic and innovative solution.

Teams were evaluated by jury on the basis of innovativeness, usefulness, feasibility, and scalability and relevance to the brand and market's needs for their proposed business solutions. 

Please refer below for the full list of prize winners:

Prize Winners of the Nordic Business and Design Case Competition 2018

Champion Team (Cash prize of SGD $3,000): Chong Chen Fung, Lim Qiu Wei, Tham Jia Huey

First Runner’s Up (Cash prize of SGD $1,800): Rachel Koh Qi Qian, Yap Li Yin, Tessa Wong Ting

Second Runner’s Up (Cash prize of SGD $900): Chu Thi Mai Anh, Bui Khanh Linh, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Mai

Five merit awards (Cash prize of SGD $300 each): 

Most Visionary - Loh Jia Yi, Handayani, Chin Han Guang

Most Innovative - Mah Nuo Nina, Nicolaus Fernandez, Nerin Tanu

Most Insightful - Vaishnavi Naidu Rajendran, Tan Ye Kai, Eileen Soh Yi Lin

Most Inspirational - Beatrice Tan, Beatrice Ng, Pancy Tan

Most Analytical - Chew Yi Chen, Natalie Eng, Oh Kai Lin