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Sustainable innovation: GEM launches a hybrid and immersive course to train students in the challenges of innovation in the ecological transition

Published on
02 February 2023

Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM), the first Business School with the status “société à mission”, announces the launch of a course to train its students, tomorrow's leaders, in the challenges of ecological transition and sustainable innovation. Designed entirely by the GEM  academic team and co-created with  technical partners, this totally new, hybrid and immersive course was launched in January 2023, with 1,100 students from the Grande Ecole program and international programs.

Combining environmental issues with Management in Technology and Innovation

GEM is the first business school to receive the status of Société à Mission, and has been a pioneer in sustainable development for many years. Since 2007, GEM has engaged in multiple actions, one of the most significant examples being its commitment to the CEC (Convention des Entreprises pour le Climat).

"The transformation of the economy and businesses is crucial to meet the challenges posed by global limits. To meet these challenges, it is necessary to reinvent initial and ongoing  education  in order to develop the knowledge and skills essential to the ecological and social transition of companies for our future leaders. The  explosion of immersive and interactive technologies offers new perspectives for developing these training programs in innovative and original formats," explains Agnès Braize, Director of GEM Labs, a campus dedicated to innovation through experimentation.

By combining its "Management in Technology and Innovation" DNA and its expertise in educational innovation with its social and environmental commitments, the Grenoble-based school is offering a new hybrid course entitled "Sustainability Transition in international business". Since the beginning of the year, this mandatory course has been deployed to 1,100 first-year students in the Grande Ecole and international programs. The objective is to distribute it to all GEM students and employees as of  2023.

Innovation durable : GEM lance un cours hybride et immersif pour former aux enjeux de l’innovation de la transition écologique

Proposing new sustainable business models

The "innovation challenges for sustainable  transition" are therefore at the heart of this new course. The aim is not only to teach students the basic concepts related to environmental issues, but also to teach them to know, test and choose tools that will enable them to transition a company towards a more sustainable model.

Its originality and novelty lie in the scenario that is proposed to them. Each student plays the role of a Rossignol employee whose mission is to help the company develop a recyclable ski and then to propose a radically innovative business model for a new Rossignol product or service that is compatible with the objective of carbon neutrality and adaptation to planetary limits.

Thanks to a virtual path divided into three stages, the student alternates theory provided by GEM (pedagogical lessons) and real-life company  situations (company resources and practical application to finalize the business model). This immersive and interactive learning device, developed in WebXR, allows  learners to explore 24 3D modelled spaces at theirown pace in order to carry out their learning quest. This 15-hour course is available in French and English.

A course developed in partnership with industrial and immersive technology companies

The team in charge of the design and development of this device wanted to be totally aligned with the problems of a company confronted with a change in business model.

Thus, several months of work were necessary to define  and  understand  the project needs, including the evaluation of the technologies, the identification of the levers and the technical specifications of the moduleand to detect the partners TESSI, WondaVr, Rev(e) Studio and Rossignol (emblematic Rhône-Alpine company committed to the fight against climate change, and as such a member of the CEC alongside GEM), and its technological realization.

This experimentation acts as a catalyst for innovation by federating an ecosystem of partners and thus creating learning experiences with high potential for student satisfaction and differentiation for the school.

 thibault-daudigeosBy co-developing this "Sustainability Transition in international business" course, GEM is consolidating the teaching already provided in the field of sustainable transitions, with the introduction in 2019 of an "Innovation for Sustainability Transition" course for the 3rd year of its PGE (Programme Grande Ecole) program and, since September 2021, with the "Sustainability Passports" accessible to all its students, the aim of which is to enhance their understanding of, and commitment to, climate and societal emergencies. "This project is also exceptional in the number and variety of professors involved," said Thibault Daudigeos, Associate Dean for Research at GEM and scientific leader of this new module. "Fourteen research professors from all management disciplines (Marketing, Finance, Production, CSR, etc.) participated in the design of the educational experience. An immersive library with over 60 resources also provides access to the latest scientific productions of our research teams. The most paradoxical thing is that it is the virtual space that allows us to offer students an experience that comes close to a real business case. No classic case study can offer so much data and such a confrontation of points of view for the students. It is a real immersion in the heart of a cross-functional innovation project that we offer to students. This pedagogical innovation is equal to the challenges that await companies that want to remain competitive in the face of the challenges of sustainable and social transitions."

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