The Voice of University

Think inside the box. The InCube Challenge by ETH Entrepreneur Club.

Author: Juliette Bromet

The fourth edition of the InCube Challenge is a creative competition for entrepreneurially minded students, took place on September 14-18, 2020 in Crans-Montana in the Swiss Alps. Over four days, five students lived together in mountain huts and worked intensively on a temporally relevant problem. The expectations were high: during the course of a few days only, they had to transform their ideas into a prototype and a business plan as a base for further development after InCube. This year, the teams were split in different mountain huts instead of the traditional glass cubes from the previous editions.The main sponsors of the InCube and OutCube projects are the Department of Economic Promotion of the Association of Municipalities of Crans-Montana,  the two polytechnical universities EPFL and ETHZ, and the Jacques and Gloria Gossweiler Foundation.

The pressure is on

Just like last year, the participants for 2020 underwent a rigorous selection process. From countless applications, the most promising and motivated twenty were chosen. Applicants who could integrate themselves the best in this type of challenge and have relevant background knowledge were prioritised. In July, the participants started the educational online program PrepCube, where they assessed their knowledge and learned more about crucial concepts of entrepreneurship, design thinking and innovation at their own pace.

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Furthermore, in order to continue preparing the participants for the challenge, they had the opportunity to spend the weekend before also in Crans-Montana for the OutCube workshops. There they learned the most important concepts of the event, which facilitated the creative process during the InCube Challenge. Amongst other things, they learned how to efficiently produce a prototype and pitch their idea. The Association des Communes de Crans-Montana provided them with a startup-friendly environment, and multiple experts in entrepreneurship animated these 3 days of workshops. OutCube was a truly unique place to push participants’ creativity, build friendships, and bring the group closer together. The weekend ended with the presentation of the solution proposed by each team to answer the mini-challenge proposed by Association des communes de Crans-Montana (ACCM): “Changing the nature of Crans- Montana: how to shift from an exclusive tourist destination to one of the tech epicenters of the world?”.

A race against time in the spectacular setting of the Swiss Alps

On Monday, August 14th, after communication of the challenges to the participants, they only had five days until the final presentation. After settling into their respective mountain chalets, they started working intensively on their given challenges, while being able to enjoy the magnificent view of the Swiss mountains. The 4 teams work hard and passionately to deliver the best pitch for the final event on Friday 18th. During the week, they received support from different experts and feedback on their solution from potential users by Zoom. The 4 challenges are focused on topics such as education, health, climate change and food system.

After many months of preparation and uncertainty, the InCube Challenge 2020 has finally been concluded on Friday 18th with a final event at Kraftwerk Zürich that was nothing short of a success! Following the four pitches in front of a jury, the winning team was selected and received a prize of 10’000 francs! The audience could also vote to designate its favorite solution.

The whole ETH Entrepreneur Club committee wants to express its gratitude to all the sponsors and partners who supported us in the most difficult times. Stay tuned for the InCube Challenge 2021!


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About the author

ETH Entrepreneur Club

The ETH Entrepreneur Club is a student initiative at ETH Zurich to bring entrepreneurial-minded people together and to foster entrepreneurship among students. Through startup events and our community, we provide a platform to develop ideas, build teams and exchange experience.