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University Students’ Circularity Innovations Shine at HEINEKEN Cambodia’s Second Annual Sustainathon

Phnom Penh, 7 June 2024 – HEINEKEN Cambodia, in collaboration with GIZ Cambodia, celebrated the winners of its second annual Sustainathon this week. The competition, designed to empower university students to develop innovative solutions for a sustainable future, crowned three winning teams for their outstanding projects focused on circularity in the food and beverage sector.

The top prize was awarded to Team “Eco-brew” for their idea to transform local surplus mango into sugar cubes, supporting local businesses and contributing to circularity. Team “Refuel” secured the first runner-up position with their approach to giving spent grains a second life as flour, minimizing waste and environmental impact. The second runner-up prize went to Team “INKABLE” for their eco-friendly ink made from frying oil and plant-based natural pigments, utilizing clean energy conversion.

This year, the HEINEKEN Sustainathon spotlighted an environmental theme centered on circularity, which aligns with HEINEKEN Cambodia’s long-term ‘Brew a Better Cambodia’ ambition, celebrating the brewer’s 30-year anniversary this year. ‘Brew a Better Cambodia’ aims to contribute positively through three key pillars – Environmental, Social, and Responsible Consumption. Recognizing that effective circular solutions require the involvement of multiple stakeholders, the event promotes sustainable innovation through partnership and collective action.

The Sustainathon attracted over 220 applicants, with 27 teams comprising more than 100 members participating in the competition. The competition consisted of four stages: the Hatch, Hack-fest, Bootcamp, and Finals. In the final round, 10 teams competed, with mentorship provided by representatives from HEINEKEN Cambodia and GIZ.

The event featured opening remarks from H.E Heng Sokkung, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology & Innovation (MISTI); H.E. Kop Roly, Under Secretary of State of the Ministry of Environment; and Mrs. Anne de Graaf, Corporate Affairs Director of HEINEKEN Cambodia.

The panel of judges included Dr. Srun Sovila, Director from NICC; Mr. Florian Schmidt, Advisor Waste Management and Circularity from GIZ; Mrs. Kavitha Panicker, Brewing Manager from HEINEKEN Cambodia; and Ms. Sreymom Hun, Lecturer on Food Technology and Engineering from RUPP.

"The students’ innovative approaches to green economy and circular economy concepts demonstrate the potential for real-world impact. By integrating these concepts into their projects and business ideas, these students are not only learning but also leading the way towards a more sustainable future and economic growth in Cambodia," said Frank Jattke, Team Leader ASEAN, GIZ.

"We are incredibly inspired and impressed by the creativity and dedication shown by the students. Their hard work and innovative solutions reflect the bright future of sustainable development in Cambodia. We are very excited about the potential this generation of leaders holds," said Mrs. Anne de Graaf, Corporate Affairs Director of HEINEKEN Cambodia. "The Sustainathon is not only a competition, but foremost a platform for engaging future innovators and leaders alongside key industry partners. We believe that only by working together can we truly create positive impact and value for our consumers, communities, and the planet."

Mrs. Kavitha Panicker, Brewing Manager from HEINEKEN Cambodia added, "All of the teams impressed us with their passion and collaboration. This year's Sustainathon encouraged participants to use innovation and creativity, ensuring their proposed solutions are designed to be reused for as long as possible, reducing waste and minimizing resource use. In our view, everyone who participated is a winner, and we look forward to the next HEINEKEN Sustainathon."

For more information on the HEINEKEN Sustainathon, please follow HEINEKEN Cambodia’s Facebook ( and HEINEKEN Sustainathon’s strategic partner GIZ Cambodia (

About HEINEKEN Cambodia

HEINEKEN Cambodia is one of the leading brewers in the Kingdom, established in the country in 1994. Driven by its purpose to brew the joy of true togetherness to inspire a better world, the company creates great experiences for consumers and customers with a portfolio of high-quality local and international brands, including Heineken®, Tiger, ABC, Anchor and Gold Crown. With its national footprint and state-of-the-art brewery in Phnom Penh, the company employs about 700 people and supports 120,000* indirect jobs across its value chain. Committed to the sustainable development of Cambodia, HEINEKEN Cambodia aims to “Brew a Better Cambodia” with a focus on the environment, social sustainability, and responsible consumption. HEINEKEN Cambodia is part of the HEINEKEN Company, the world’s most international brewer.

*Source: 2022 internal sales, 2020 Economic Impact Study – 19’ data, gov’t data

About GIZ Cambodia

German international cooperation has been working in Cambodia on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) since 1994. In 2001, a permanent GIZ Office was opened in Phnom Penh. In Southeast Asia, the Kingdom of Cambodia is one of the German development cooperation's main partner countries. Cooperation activities are guided by the globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Cambodian Pentagonal Strategy, and the National Strategic Development Plan.

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