News

Students help Stora Enso to build ‘pictures of the future’

Students’ ideas on future business models in e-commerce and sustainable packaging will be utilized in the company’s strategy work.
The students from the Master’s Programme in Industrial Engineering and Management gained insight into innovation and business development work in Stora Enso. From the left: Judith Maier, Helena Henno, Aleksi Purkunen, Julius Särkkälä and Christian Mohn. Photo: Johanna Lassy / Aalto University.
Photo: Stora Enso

Digitalization and changes in customer needs impose significant growth and renewal challenges upon companies. Focusing merely on technical capabilities narrows the strategic options that companies have at their disposal. That is why companies need insight into broader strategies to achieve growth and renewal.

Two groups of Aalto students from the Master’s Programme in Industrial Engineering and Management provided such insight for Stora Enso, one of the biggest operators in the global renewable materials and packaging industry. As part of their assessment for the course Strategies for Growth and Renewal, the two groups worked closely on the company’s strategic scenario work.

‘As part of our future business development, we are building scenarios of the future in order to be able to respond to the arising consumer needs as well as develop our future business models,’ says Timo Sokka, Vice President and Head of New Business Development in Stora Enso Consumer Board division.

The students’ task was to evaluate and propose how new trends and new business models could be utilized in current organizational settings in order to enhance the company’s innovation and renewal efforts.

‘The first challenge was about new business models in the retail packaging value chain, addressing the evolving trends in the packaging supply chain due to e-commerce and how new technologies in digitalization impact and enable these steps. The second challenge focused on sustainable flexible packaging, looking at market opportunities for renewable materials in flexible consumer packaging,’ explains Mr Sokka.

Creating value at the university–industry interface

Often managers are so preoccupied with conducting business that they do not have the time to explore new possibilities, nor collect and analyze new information. This is where Aalto University students can help.

Co-operation with Stora Enso was reinforced when Stora Enso and Aalto University made the Memorandum of Understanding in May 2016 with the contribution of Dean Janne Laine from the School of Chemical Engineering.

During an intense two-month period the students conducted primary research in order to analyze a current innovation, growth or renewal challenge that the company faces. In close collaboration with the company management and under the academic supervision of Assistant Professor Marina Biniari, the students produced actionable recommendations on how to address the identified challenge.

‘I’m very pleased with the performance of the students. We are utilizing the findings in our strategy work, so these projects the students carried out were not merely academic exercises but real-life business cases,’ says Mr Sokka.

‘We found this work helpful and meaningful and will definitely do this again – and also encourage other companies to use this opportunity. In Stora Enso we are constantly looking for potential future employees to complement our staff, and this type of co-operation gives us also an excellent opportunity to get to know these individuals,’ he continues.

For students, working with Stora Enso meant a chance to gain insight into how companies approach development and innovation, and a chance to develop their consulting and business development skills.

‘It was very interesting to be part of a future-oriented project that is related to both sustainability issues and market opportunities, and to be able to integrate sustainable thinking – at least to some extent – into the business model,’ says Helena Henno, one of the students involved in the projects.

‘It has been rewarding to work with such a large company as Stora Enso and to have an impact on the development of the company,’ adds student Julius Särkkälä.

 

Strategies for growth and renewal in order to cultivate game changers! The students’ involvement in company-based projects is central to the Strategies for Growth and Renewal course. Each academic year, 11 to 13 projects are completed. For companies the course offers an opportunity to engage in such a project while students gain insight and hands-on experience of designing growth and renewal strategies for companies. The course is offered by the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, and led by Assistant Professor Marina Biniari.

  • Published:
  • Updated:
Share
URL copied!

Read more news

Design by Sushant Passi
Cooperation Published:

Fiskars Group donates EUR 250 000 to the field of arts and design at Aalto University

The donation is part of the long-term collaboration between Fiskars Group and Aalto University. The collaboration includes courses on, for example, sustainable design and materials of the future.
Porthania
Cooperation, Honoured Published:

World Meeting for Women in Mathematics and Ladyzhenskaya Award announcement July 1-2, 2022

The second edition of (WM)², the World Meeting for Women in Mathematics organized by the International Mathematical Union (IMU) Committee for Women in Mathematics and Olga Alexandrovna Ladyzhenskaya award announcement will take place online and in Helsinki on July 1-2, 2022.
Mirko Varano is the Unite! Key Liaison Officer at KTH.
Cooperation Published:

Creative discussions during Unite! Summer Community Event

Between 13-15 June, KTH hosted Unite! Summer Community Event that gathered participants from all European universities in the alliance.
Students at the campus.
Cooperation Published:

Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation donates to the field of education in arts and design at Aalto University

The foundation supports scientific research with a focus on the impact of mental wellbeing on physical health. This is a central perspective, for example, in the education and research of health and wellbeing architecture at Aalto.