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This spring Volvo Group and The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) contributed a challenge called Sustainable Chain of Transportation to The Junior Academy’s international science competition. The purpose of The Junior Academy is to promote curiosity, problem-solving and scientific endeavours among young people. The Junior Academy is a virtual and global program from the New York Academy of Sciences.

More than 500 students ages 13 to 17 from all around the world took on the challenge from Volvo and IVA. 56 multinational teams successfully developed innovative and functioning solutions during their 60-day project.

“If we’re going to meet the grand challenges we’re facing today we need to work in exactly the same way as these young students. Participants from different cultures working together in a digital environment to quickly develop innovative ideas, allowing us to further enhance the ones we believe have the most potential,” says Helene Niklasson, head of the Volvo Group’s CampX innovation lab.

Examples of solutions to Volvo Group’s Junior Academy challenge

  • One team developed an automatic packaging system that scans products and uses a laser cutter to customize packaging from recycled cardboard to minimize both material usage and space needed in complex transportation.
  • One team designed an algorithm that calculates sustainability scores for any type of product based on production, storage and transportation. The algorithm can be activated on e-commerce websites to enhance the customer influence.
  • One team created an idea for an entire fleet of eco ships, eco trucks and eco vans that together meet the vehicle needs of the entire chain.  

Hans Folkesson is an expert on climate transition in the transport industry after years of experience in the automotive industry. He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) and served as an expert advisor on the jury for The Junior Academy in Sweden.

“It’s important to get young people’s perspectives on climate transition. Those of us from past generations often fall into the trap of focusing on the short term, but I’ve seen how young people are much better at thinking big, focusing on the long term and coming up with fresh ideas,” says Folkesson.

The Junior Academy is an international STEM program (STEM = science, technology, engineering, mathematics) and gives young people with a passion for STEM a chance to work on real-life challenges while developing their 21st Century skills such as problem-solving and critical thinking.