Patagonia and UC Berkeley Haas School of Business Invite Next Generation of Business Leaders to Solve Environmental Challenge

Inaugural Patagonia Eco Innovation Case Competition Brings Top Students from Across the Country Together to Tackle a Real-World Issue Facing the Outdoor Apparel Industry 

VENTURA, Calif. – On April 21-22, graduate student teams from leading universities across the United States will come together to compete in the development of potential solutions to a real and urgent problem faced by Patagonia.

This is the final round of a first-of-its-kind case competition.  Patagonia invited students from interdisciplinary backgrounds to help address a current issue that the outdoor industry faces, which deals with the tension between building the best product while causing the least amount of environmental harm.

The competition’s final round will be held at the Haas School of Business in Berkeley, Calif., when eight finalist teams will compete for prize money and a trip to Patagonia headquarters to surf and meet with executives. Patagonia aims to implement the winning proposal as part of their business strategy. The top three winning solutions to the case will be developed into a case written by the California Management Review and taught in classrooms to enhance sustainability curriculum. 

“The challenge of our business is to succeed by conventional measures using the unconventional means required to lessen our impact on the environment,” said Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario, who will act as a judge in the competition’s final round. “Just as students seek to learn from businesses like Patagonia, we stand to gain from student ingenuity to help solve some of our biggest challenges. Our planet’s health will rely on the next generation of business leaders.”

The Center for Responsible Business (CRB) was established in 2003 at Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley, where it maintains a full-time dedicated staff led by the CRB Executive Director Robert Strand. Since 2013, the CRB is situated within the Institute for Business & Social Impact (IBSI) launched by Professor Laura Tyson. In keeping with the Center for Responsible Business’s mission to develop leaders who redefine business for a sustainable future, the competition seeks to harness student interest in enhancing the relationship between business and a healthy planet. 

“This case competition is a great example why Patagonia is a sustainability leader,” said Professor Robert Strand, Executive Director of the CRB.  “The leaders open themselves up to criticism by putting their toughest, most tension-riddled challenges out in the open.  It’s the best way to attract constructive feedback and generate creative solutions.  This case competition does exactly that.”

More than 95 teams from 27 US universities entered the competition in late 2015 and early this year their proposals were evaluated on criteria including innovation, feasibility, and support of Patagonia’s mission. To view a list of competition finalists, and for more information, click here.


Adam Fetcher, Patagonia /

Kate Alper, Haas School of Business /

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