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Students - make a change happen

Hackathon style sustainability challenge on innovative energy & waste solutions for high-school, bachelor's, master's and doctoral students in business, science, technology, design and other disciplines.


What is ESI Sustainability Challenge?


Together with ESI partners RIMI, EcoBaltia and SEB bank we will go on three-day long journey to learn the ins and outs of the industry and will learn what challenges we are facing when it comes to energy and waste management in the context of sustainability. During this event, teams will work on their solutions to challenges offered by our partners. If you already have an idea that would solve issues in energy and waste industries and make them more sustainable, you are more than welcome to join and work on your solution during the event. During this event we will offer you both industry, business and product development mentors, so you can have as much of support and insights you need to develop your idea. This challenge will be focused on the idea and product creation process and there won't be demand to work on technical solutions unless you want it to. We will focus more on product-market fit and the process of getting from problem to idea to solution. After the event, you are expected to have a good level of knowing how to develop your solution further.

Whom is this challenge meant for?

We are welcoming all students no matter their nationality or country of residence, but they must be able to engage in online and, more significantly, offline activities in order to give the maximum value for you and your teammates. We don't have many other requirements other than being a student and being driven to address sustainability concerns in the energy and waste industries. You can be studying in any speciality (from design, art, and philosophy to rocket science, biotech and material physics to business, finances and law) at any level of higher education (1st course of bachelor's studies up to Ph.D. level students are welcome to join), including high school students. You can, but are not required, to join as a group. Regardless, you will be required to register as an individual, and if you are joining a team, all team members must be individually registered. Team size should not exceed 6 individuals and shouldn't be smaller than 3 participants; if you have 8 friends who wish to work together, we recommend forming two different teams. 

Why to care?


Sustainability is a popular issue, not because it is fashionable to discuss it, but because our future depends on it. Energy and waste are two areas where the situation is severe and may have a greater influence, so we opted to focus on them first. When we look at energy, there is no doubt that it urgently has to be restarted with more sustainable options, which may include both the energy sources we use and the habits we have, and this includes not just individual habits, but behaviours at the firm level in large organizations. When it comes to waste, the variety of issues that must be addressed is more fragmented, ranging from fast fashion to excessive consumption to poor waste management. And, while there are solutions available, they are not always effective for a variety of reasons, including our own behaviors.


Why participate?


For the best solutions, financial support for the further implementation of the idea (total prize fund: 6000 EUR)

A platform for further development of ideas

Networking with experts and specialists in the field of energy & waste

Participation in an international student challenge to develop sustainable solutions


Our three fantastic partners - RIMI, SEB bank, and EcoBaltia - have prepared challenges by providing task descriptions, mentors, experts, and the opportunity to visit them on a field visit! 

How to promote textile sorting, recycling and re-circulation in Latvia?

Unfortunately, the fast fashion trend leaves a major impact on a large part of society as the amount of textiles resulting from irresponsible shopping is only increasing, and statistics show that on average 30 per cent of clothes in Europeans’ wardrobes end up unused. In addition, a large amount of textiles are simply thrown away instead of being reused or recycled. In Latvia, each year 3–5 per cent, approximately 26,700 tonnes, of the amount of waste going to landfill sites is formed by textile waste, i.e. clothes, footwear, home textiles, accessories, disposed of as unsorted municipal waste. 

How to promote the recycling of used electrical devices in Latvia?

A feature of the technological age is the high consumption and replacement of various types of equipment, which is not always related to the practical need to replace broken equipment. According to a study of consumer habits when buying and using electrical appliances, which was conducted under the auspices of the LIFE Waste to Resources IP project, on average, Latvian consumers buy new electrical appliances once every four years, and small household appliances more than once a year.* Meanwhile, 23% of end-of-life but still usable appliances end up in household waste. The main reasons for this are that disposal points for electrical appliance waste are too far away or unavailable and there is a lack of information about disposal options.

How to encourage Rimi customers to use re-usable bags to reduce use of plastic and #SaveEnvironment?

No doubt everyone has at least a few reusable bags at home, but many customers still buy single-use paper and plastic shopping bags. They are mostly used once and thrown away.

How to encourage Rimi customers to buy markdown products to reduce food waste and #SaveMoney?

The prevailing attitude in society is that discounted products, due to their short shelf life, are the business of the poor. However, such "discrimination" of products raises an environmental problem - food waste. These products are still of high quality, at an extremely low price, for today's consumption - which is certainly suitable for everyone.

How might we help owners and inhabitants of block-of-flat houses to become educated, guided and agreed towards house renovation?  

Could we create Energy Service Company (ESCo)* in Latvia?

(e.g. digital home platform with community building functionality, facilitating process of renovation etc.?)

How might we motivate home/flat/house owners to perform more energy-efficiency audits?

Issue behind is that we’re lacking data about homes energy-efficiency (digital tool which is keeping information of house energy consumption; energy-efficiency level; regularity of audits to be done, some stimulation to perform energy-efficiency audits etc). 


Applications are open

Webinars by challenge owners (RIMI, SEB bank and EcoBaltia):

02/03  Webinar with Eco Baltia and Kristine Nagle

09/03 Webinar with SEB


Applications are closed

18/03 at 10:00
Online introduction event and team formation

25/03 to 26/03

Sustainability challenge in-person event and final presentations

Riga, Deglava iela 161, RIMI office

20/03 to 24/03 (OPTIONAL)
Meetings with mentors, ASYNC work in teams

Field visits to challenge owners 


During the event, you will have a chance to validate and improve your idea with the help of seasoned professionals. They will provide guidance and support to the participating teams throughout the hackathon.

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Regita Zeiļa

Industry mentor

Skilled social economy expert, working in the field since 2017 and an advocate for community involvement and growth. Director of Social Entrepreneurship Association of Latvia, the leading social entrepreneurship ecosystem building organisation in Latvia.

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Viesturs Sosārs

Industry mentor

A startuper turned educator helping with topics of building of new products from early stage startups to corporations.

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Tarmo Virki

Industry mentor

Tarmo has taken to the startup field 20+ years of experience in international media outlets like Reuters and Forbes. He can help any team with figuring out their story.

Kristaps Dreimanis

Industry mentor

More than 5 years experience in waste management companies - in different roles - sales manager, head of branch and currently head of sales department. Kristaps have participated in a lot of exhibitions about waste.

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Viktors Toropovs

Industry mentor

Viktors is leading full scale of sustainability initiatives on SEB bank LV level. He is responsible for implementation of sustainability regulatory requirements in SEB Baltic.

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Dace Akule

Industry mentor

Since 2018, I have been working on public campaigns, research, policy work and practical workshops to contribute to increased sustainability in the textile industry, as a member of one of the most experienced environmental non-governmental organisations, Green Liberty.

Ivars Mirosnikovs

Industry mentor

I have developed business management systems for multi-million companies in Baltics.  I started VIVID TECH as it gave much more freedom of shaping product the way I want it.

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Xavier Landes

Industry mentor

Associate professor at SSE Riga, I am specialised in CSR, business ethics and sustainability. More recently, I have been studying new climate solutions such as carbon capture and albedo enhancement.

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Agita Kraukle

Industry mentor

Food bank manager for more than 10 years. Agitas daily work consists of attracting food donations by organizing charity campaigns and reducing food waste by diverting these products to charity.

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Aivars Timofejevs

Industry mentor

Aivars has an extensive experience in business and academia. He has been running real estate development, marketing and research businesses.

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Alex Felman

Industry mentor

An entrepreneurial professional currently working on his 4th startup venture. In addition he runs his own family office, Felman Family Office, and works with family offices around the world.





Online event

  • Welcome and intro to agenda for today and week

  • Challenge presentations from partners

  • Design thinking seminar

  • Ideation and team building

  • Presentations of ideas

  • Team presentations

  • Next steps in idea development & product<>market fit homework for the week

  • Practical information (expeditions, online meetings, getting to venue, etc.) Q&A




  • Online meetings with experts (pre-arranged)

  • ASYNC work in teams

  • Field visits to challenge owners




Onsite event at RIMI

  • Opening event + practical info

  • "Checkpoint" with mentors (presentations + mentors' recommendations for further work)

  • Prototyping workshops​

  • Working in teams to develop solutions​

  • Work with mentors




  • Work in teams and with mentors

  • Preparation for presentations

  • Closing event 

  • Presentations

  • Awards ceremony


Registration form




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