A natural clean: Student team from Hamburg wins digital German Finals with sustainable laundry detergent made from ivy

At the first digital German Finals of business@school, the educational initiative of the international consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a team of five students from Gymnasium Eppendorf in Hamburg took first place with their business idea IVY, a sustainable laundry detergent made with regional ivy. Second place went to a team from the Städtisches Siebengebirgsgymnasium of Bad Honnef for a sustainable disinfectant made of potato waste. Finally, a team from Gymnasium Ottobrunn won third place with a smoke alarm for the early detection of forest fires.

Munich, June 23,2020. "We combine what a lot of people consider to be a contradiction in terms: Performance and sustainability." That was the promise made by Mats Lindemann (17), Henning Roggatz (17), team spokesperson Frederike Rost (16), Matti Schubmann (18), and Paulina Rogowski (17). And then they explained how it works. The team from Gymnasium Eppendorf in Hamburg developed an innovative laundry detergent: IVY is made with regional ivy and completely free of synthetics, in addition to being suitable for allergy sufferers, easy to use, and great at getting clothes clean thanks to the ingredient saponin, which is contained in ivy. With this business idea, the team prevailed against eight other top teams from all over Germany yesterday and won business@school's first-ever digital German Finals.

The creators of IVY went the extra mile in recent weeks: "After the regional competition, we took the judges' criticism to heart, recalculated everything and revised our marketing strategy. We also practiced answering questions from judges in video conferences," noted Matti Schubmann. Their effort paid off. "We worked the whole school year for this moment. And we're pretty proud that we did so well in spite of everything," said team spokesperson Frederike Rost.

Digital presentations for expert judges

Rather than presenting their business ideas in person in Munich, this year's teams presented them and answered the questions of the expert judges by video conference. "The willingness of the students to work with the changed situation was really impressive: They accepted the new reality immediately and showed that great creativity and teamwork are possible even in difficult circumstances. This experience will help them after school—whether during their studies or training or as entrepreneurs," emphasized judge Matthias Tauber, Managing Director and Senior Partner at Boston Consulting Group. The substance of their work was convincing, too: The judges praised the team from Hamburg for their clearly structured business model and detailed consideration of its market potential. They even showcased a prototype.

The judges were

  • Dr. Andreas Dinger, Managing Director and Senior Partner, Boston Consulting Group
  • Jochen Engert, Founder and CEO, FlixMobility GmbH
  • Christina Foerster, Member of the Executive Board, Customer, IT & Corporate Responsibility, Deutsche Lufthansa AG
  • Dr. Rainer Hillebrand, former Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board, Otto Group
  • Albert Reicherzer, Division Head of Group Organization & Security, Commerzbank AG
  • Corinna Schittenhelm, Chief Human Resources Officer and Labor Relations Director, Schaeffler AG
  • Matthias Tauber, Managing Director and Senior Partner, Boston Consulting Group
  • Jens Uhlendorf, Partner, Hogan Lovells International LLP

"Puretato" from Städtisches Siebengebirgsgymnasium Bad Honnef takes second place

Close on the heels of the winning team from Hamburg, the team from Städtisches Siebengebirgsgymnasiums Bad Honnef grabbed second place. Yannick Gisbertz (17), Bela Thiele (16), Christoph Weber (16), and team spokesperson Nicolai Zander (18) brought their business idea "Puretato," a sustainable disinfectant made of potato waste, to the German Finals. "Usually, disinfectants are made of ethanol—which is not exactly environmentally friendly," they explained. Puretato is made with sustainable farming techniques and climate-neutral production. By using potato waste, it also contributes to reducing resource waste. The judges agreed: "An idea that suits the times."

Third place goes to Gymnasium Ottobrunn for HTSPT

Six students from Gymnasium Ottobrunn earned third place with HTSPT, a smoke alarm for the early detection of forest fires. "In Germany, this topic is definitely hot right now. In 2018, forests equal in area to 3,000 soccer fields were lost to fire," reported Laura Haug (17), Lea Haug (17), Sophia Müller (16), Marc Rodig (17), Emanuel Schmitt (17), and team spokesperson Alexander Wolters (17) at the start of their presentation. With HTSPT, the team found a solution for the problem, with sensors that detect early-stage fires and thus aid in their quick containment. "A convincing business idea with technical aspects that have been worked out precisely," summarized the judges.

Over 1,500 students from 90 schools delve into business

Digital business models, balance sheets, and sustainable growth strategies—for the last ten months, these were among the topics tackled by 1,500 participating students age fifteen to eighteen from 90 schools. As the highlight of the project year, they spent the last weeks testing their own entrepreneurial skills by developing business ideas and business plans in teams, with support from over 200 participating teachers and 500 coaches from 20 leading companies and BCG. This year, they overcame the additional challenges resulting from school closures: Rather than meeting in person with their coaches and teachers to hone their ideas, they communicated digitally and found new ways to work together as a team. "Thanks to the close cooperation of everyone involved, we were able to find solutions amazingly quickly and keep business@school going in this very special school year, while also helping schools to go digital. Of course, we would have loved to see the teams live and in person, but we look forward to doing that at a later event in Berlin," said Dr. Babette Claas, Director of business@school.

These nine teams participated in the digital German Finals with the following ideas:

  • Bischof-Neumann-Schule, Königstein: MAGTasse—a cup magnetically attached to its saucer
  • Canisius-Kolleg, Berlin: PATRON—a smart pillbox with an accompanying app
  • Erzbischöfliche Liebfrauenschule, Cologne: Sozium—a matching app for young people to volunteer in retirement homes
  • Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium, Cologne: PotPLAnt—a sustainable flowerpot made of feed corn
  • Gymnasium Eppendorf, Hamburg: IVY—sustainable laundry detergent made of ivy
  • Gymnasium Ohmoor, Hamburg: ClimateKARMA—an app for compensating climate “sins” with microdonations
  • Gymnasium Ottobrunn: HTSPT—a smoke alarm for the early detection of forest fires
  • Landesgymnasium für Hochbegabte, Schwäbisch Gmünd: WALgeNUSS—vegan walnut milk
  • Städtisches Siebengebirgsgymnasium Bad Honnef: Puretato—sustainable disinfectant made of potato waste