Smeal MBA Sustainability Case Competition

The 2022 MBA Case Comp will begin registration on 9/23/2022 and finals will be in-person Nov 17 & 18

Smeal College of Business is pleased to announce the MBA Sustainability Case Competition for Fall 2022.  

The competition will consist of two rounds.  The preliminary round will consist of electronic submissions of case analyses.  A panel of reviewers will select five semi-finalist teams who will be invited to present their cases for first ($10,000), second ($5,000), and third place ($2,500) prizes on November 18th. (See a complete set of rules, processes, and dates below.)

The case this year —

This year’s case competition is sponsored by IBM and is focused on the business response to climate change. As of this writing, global carbon dioxide concentrations stand at 416 parts per million (ppm) and evidence of a changing climate is all around us with devastating human consequences. On one hand, companies are taking action—or at least making commitments—in a wide variety of areas. Many companies are investing in—or planning to—carbon offsets to meet climate targets, a market the consultancy McKinsey estimates will grow by a factor of 15 by 2030 to become a $30 – 50 billion industry. At the same time, there has been increasing scrutiny of carbon offsets, pointing to data that such offsets don’t actually reduce emissions—and may in fact be making things worse.

There is broad agreement that to meet the urgent and pressing goals of dramatic greenhouse gas emissions reductions, conservation, efficiency, a transition to clean energy, and removal/sequestration will be necessary. The latter is where carbon offsets of some kind will need to play a role.

The teams this year will have the unique opportunity to work on this most timely of modern business questions:  how can a company truly meet its net zero commitments and how can carbon offsets play a credible role?

Case Competition Rules and Guidelines

  • Open to teams from any AACSB or EQUIS accredited business school in the U.S. and Canada.  (If other accreditation, please contact our office through Erik Foley at (
  • A maximum of three teams per business school. If more than three teams register, we will go by time-stamped submission of payment. No individual may compete on more than one team and teams should not work together in their presentation.
  • Each competing team may consist of no more than four or five members
  • All team members must be currently enrolled graduate students. We encourage the involvement of graduate-level students from other non-business disciplines as appropriate to the case.
  • At least two members of each team must be an MBA student.
  • No substitutions of players are allowed after the registration deadline.
  • Depending on the needs of the client and case, participants may be required to sign a nondisclosure agreement.
  • There must be no identifying information on any submitted materials such as school names or logos.
  • Teams must document ALL sources of information to avoid plagiarism. The list of sources must be included with submitted materials but does NOT need to be a part of the verbal presentation.
  • There must be no identifying information on any submitted materials such as school names or logos.


The cost of registration is $200.00 per team.

  • To register you will need to have the names and email addresses of all participating team members, in addition to the name, title, and email address of a faulty or staff contact person.
  • Registration will begin on Friday, September 23, 2022, and ends on Friday, October 7, 2022, by 8:00 p.m. EST. To register, please click here.

How Presentations will be Assessed

Reviewers of first-round submissions and the judges of the finals will use the same assessment criterion which includes financial feasibility, social and environmental impact, innovation, risk management, and the overall effectiveness of the team's presentation and visuals.

Reviewers are typically faculty members in business and fields relevant to the case. Judges are typically current executives and professionals.

Round 1 Submission Criteria

The case will be available to registered MBA teams that are paid in full on October 10, 2022.

  • A live Q&A session with IBM will be held for all Round 1 teams. Date and time TBD. 
  • A panel of reviewers will select five teams to be finalists. The finalists will be announced no later than Friday, November 4, 2022. 

Team submissions will be due on Friday, October 28, 2022, at 8:00 p.m. EST. 

  • Each team will be given 15 minutes to present their analysis and recommendations. Team introductions will not count against your allotted time. Each team member must participate during the 15-minute presentation.
  • Video presentations and electronic versions of accompanying presentations will be due no later than 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Friday, October 28, 2022. Any submissions received after this time will not be considered for judging.
  • Teams will be scored based on their video presentation and accompanying files (i.e. PowerPoint or similar presentation platforms). Teams are also welcome to use additional materials to support the presentation of their recommendations.
  • Teams must be sure to document ALL sources of information to avoid plagiarism. The list of sources does not need to be part of the presentation, but it should be submitted with accompanying files. 


Finalists will make their presentations at an in-person event held at University Park on November 17 & 18, 2022. Our finals are designed to be a great experience for students. They will feature unique opportunities to network with other students, faculty, corporate executives, and the staff of the Center for the Business of Sustainability. 

  • A live Q&A session with IBM will be held for all finalists. Date and time TBD. 
  • The presentation will be to a panel of judges which will include executives from the sponsoring company.
  • Finalists will be given 20 minutes for presentation. The order of presentations will be selected randomly.
  • Teams will compete for first ($10,000), second ($5,000) and third place ($2,500) prizes.

At-A-Glance Dates


Day of Week


Time EST

Registration Begins


September 23, 2022

8:00 p.m. EST

Registration Ends


October 07, 2022

8:00 p.m. EST

Case Released 


October 10, 2022

Noon, 12:00 p.m. EST

Round 1 - Submissions due 


October 28, 2022

8:00 p.m. EST

Finalists Announced


November 4, 2022

Noon, 12:00 p.m. EST

Finals -Submissions due


November 16, 2022

11:59 p.m. EST

Finals - In-person

Thurs. Fri.

November 17 & 18, 2022


For further information email: Tracey Mariner at