The millennial generation seduces Bayer at the UPF Barcelona School of Management 2016 Garage Challenge


The Garage Challenge is an open innovation project applied to learning, in which teams of students from different UPF Barcelona School of Management programs and different nationalities work on the same business challenge. In this edition, Bayer proposed an innovation challenge focusing on the management and internal transfer of knowledge. 'This is a real challenge, a challenge on which we already have a team working at Bayer to find new formulas or communications systems to allow the company to quickly and effectively transfer documentation, manuals and improvements to the more than 400 employees of the Bayer Service Center Barcelona', according to Oliver Winkelmann, Operations Manager at Bayer's Barcelona Service Center (BSC). In short, we need a disruptive information and learning system capable of attracting and motivating BSC workers. 

  There were initially ten student teams working on the challenge. Three projects were chosen as finalists and finally a jury made up of representatives from Bayer and the UPF Barcelona School of Management picked the winner. The jury opted for the team made up of Calo Engelhard (Brazil), Diana Torassa (Spain), Federico González (Paraguay) and Luis de Oriola-Cortada (Spain) and their The Evolve Wheel proposal."They made an excellent presentation of a solid, easy-to-implement idea and therefore we evaluated both its originality and its feasibility", the Bayer managers emphasized.

The winning project, The Evolve Wheel, proposes that the multinational create a knowledge platform for its workers based on three pillars:

  1.  Learn: Standardize the learning process through video tutorials, simulation exercises and the support of coaches.
  2. Develop: Weekly sessions based on subjects voted for by the employees through the internal communications platform and led by a facilitator to encourage participation and the sharing of ideas and content.
  3. Enjoy: Set up a club to organize leisure activities: games, social events, escape rooms, workshops, awards, etc.

'We believe that today work, learning and enjoyment are indivisible concepts in a job and what we did is put together in a platform what we would like to see in the company we work for", explained the winners. Having fun at work means that 40% of employees are satisfied, so their defense of their proposal focused on a famous statement by Richard Branson:  "Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to".   The project that came second, Bayer e-Learning Platform (Kathrine Backe, Nicholas G. Ingram, Rodrigo Diaz Carrau and Ben Soeren Soetebeer) devised an e-learning platform combining online courses, gamification and surveys to detect  employees' training needs. Finally, the project that came third, Bayer University (Leon Molenkamp, Lisa Bernardi, Lu Zhang and Jinsong Wu) proposed that Bayer set up a Corporate University offering five services: a virtual tour of the company, in-house and external online courses (MOOC), a system of shared reviews and evaluations and a system of credits for courses taken that can be turned into rewards for the workers in the form of restaurant vouchers, complementary days off, opportunities for internal training in another country, social donations or access to higher level courses.   Those responsible for innovation matters at Bayer highlighted the values of the Garage Challenge: freshness, innovative ideas, an external view of the business, inspiration and entrepreneurship. 'We are really pleased to be part of these initiatives.
For his part, the dean of the UPF Barcelona School of Management, Daniel Serra, stressed the involvement of the company in the process. 'This real engagement is very important for us, because we are not just talking about setting a challenge for our students to work on, but a true rapprochement between business and university to discuss actual challenges and work together on them.    So much so, that Bayer announced the offer of an internship for the students from the winning team, so that they could have the opportunity to work on and implement the proposal. "We don't want the students' participation to end here; we want them to be involved in the project. Now we have to work on it and develop it, but I honestly believe they have done a good job and to see its actual implementation could be an important and motivating experience for their careers", Oliver Winkelmann insisted.