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RILA Sets First Tech Global Retail Challenge

Looking to bring solutions to retail technology and the circular economy, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) has created the (R) Tech Global Retail Challenge in partnership with the Bensadoun School of Retail Management at McGill University.

The competition will ask students around the world to develop creative ideas for reshaping retail in the circular economy. VF Corp. and Canadian Tire Corp., both members of the retail trade association, have signed on to sponsor the challenge. The competition will culminate with a final event in Montreal hosted by McGill in November.

RILA launched the (R) Tech Center for Innovation in 2017. Since then, the center has focused on helping retailers navigate the industry’s technological transformation through research, connecting retailers to innovative technologies and ventures, and assisting them in creating cultures of innovation.

“Since its inception, RILA and the center have been focused on helping retailers solve grand retail challenges and drive their businesses into the future,” Adam Siegel, senior vice president of innovation for RILA, said. “We are confident this competition will open students to the opportunities within retail and foster meaningful solutions that can help shape the future of our industry and its contribution to the circular economy.”

RILA and McGill have invited more than 90 universities from around the world to join the challenge. Each participating university will develop one to two student teams under the guidance of a relevant faculty advisor. The teams will be charged with finding solutions to accelerate young consumers’ participation in scalable circular economies for retail and consumer products.

The challenge will start in early fall with the teams applying design thinking over the course of six weeks. The teams will then gather at McGill for a finals weekend on Nov. 15 to 17. Finalists will be judged by executives from VF and Canadian Tire, along with retail and circular economy experts. The finals will be held in conjunction with the official launch of the Bensadoun School of Retail Management on Nov. 16.

RILA noted that the challenge is the centerpiece of its collaboration with Intel and universities from across North America to help create a robust retail-tech talent pipeline.