04/21/2008, Düsseldorf / Germany


‘Henkel Innovation Challenge’ a total success

Finals of Henkel’s international student competition

In the fall of 2007, Henkel launched an international student competition under the name ‘Henkel Innovation Challenge’. Now the finals in Barcelona have just come to an end. Six teams of students from throughout Europe presented their ideas before an international jury comprised of Henkel managers. The challenge facing these young talents was to develop innovative products and business concepts for the laundry and home care segment of the year 2050. The eventual winners were the team from Spain studying at the ESADE Business School, Barcelona. These economics students presented a compelling concept involving a house-keeping robot, networked with the entire house using advanced technology. The German team from Berlin took second place. “Ultimately, however, all these students are winners. Because where else are these young people going to get such an opportunity to gather real business experience and make themselves known to an international company?” asked jury member Fridtjof Helemann, Corporate Vice President Human Resources at Henkel.

The ‘Henkel Innovation Challenge’ competition was launched in October 2007, taking in six European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. The basis of the competition was life in the year 2050, with the search on for creative ideas aligned to products or business concepts related to the laundry and home care segment. Over 1,000 students submitted their ideas. The best team from each country was then invited by the company to take part in the international final in Barcelona from April 4 to 7. Over three days, the students presented their concepts to a jury comprising experienced international Henkel managers from the company’s Laundry & Home Care and Human Resources units. “The presentations and ideas submitted by these students actually exceeded our already high expectations. During this weekend, we have got to know a number of real top talents,” commented jury member Thomas Tönnesmann, Head of Marketing Laundry & Home Care at Henkel. “It is important for us to enter into direct and open dialog with promising young talents. And with the ‘Henkel Innovation Challenge’, we have succeeded in doing precisely this,” added Andreas Lange, Corporate Senior Vice President Laundry & Home Care West Europe.

And the winner is …
The six teams each comprising three students presented their ideas for the year 2050, developed business and marketing plans, discussed and negotiated budgets – all as in real business life and in interaction with both their fellow pan-European students and the Henkel managers. “We have learned more here than we would have done in a whole series of marketing lectures at university. The ‘Henkel Innovation Challenge’ also offers a wonderful opportunity for talking to managers and getting to know Henkel as an international and innovative company,” commented Nurgül Güven, a student at Berlin University of Science and Technology. Her German team took second place behind their Spanish counterparts whose idea of an ultra-modern house-keeping robot impressed the jurors most. “We are both proud and happy that our hard work over the last few months has brought the result we hoped for – and especially that we were able to win against such tough competition,” enthused one of the winners, Borja Soler Tiana, of the Barcelona business school. In addition to the award, the Spanish team has also won a trip to Istanbul. The third place was taken by a team of three female students from Belgium.

Talent search
The competition in the labor markets for top talent is becoming increasingly tough. Consequently, Henkel is builds on direct and intensive exchange with promising young minds. The ‘Henkel Innovation Challenge’ offers the company a means to get to know highly qualified and motivated graduates from throughout Europe. In their role as mentors, Henkel managers supported and advised the student groups – and not only at the venue during this international final but also during the preparatory phases. “Over the months, therefore, both sides have become very well acquainted. And we intend to stay in contact with many of the students, even though the competition has ended,” explains Fridtjof Helemann, Corporate Vice President Human Resources at Henkel.

Henkel AG & Co. KGaA
Head of Corporate Communications
Ernst Primosch, Corporate Vice President