Challenge #20

How can we …

make business travel more sustainable?


EIT InnoEnergy

InnoEnergy is the innovation engine for sustainable energy across Europe supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.

Involved SDG's

#9 – Industry, innovation & infrasturcture

#11 – Sustainable cities & communities

#12 – Responsible consumption & production


  • Dutch
  • English

Problem description

During the last 10 years business travel has increased significantly due to the economic growth and the rise of a global economy. Business travel is not only a big cost for companies and organisations but it also is time consuming and it is one of the major contributors to greenhouse gases. Global companies such as Nokia and Barco and international organisations such as NATO and the EU want to control costs while at the same time they profile themselves as sustainable company. Our own university also has changed its travel policy recently.

For both individuals and companies it is difficult to evaluate the trade-offs of international travel and to make a decision on what is the preferred mode of travel based on the company policy and image. One of the reasons is that the data required to do such analysis is scattered over many sources and systems. In addition, existing apps to calculate CO2 footprints are very cumbersome to use, have a bad user inteface and require a lot of manual input.

The challenge has two dimensions:

  • A technical solution needs to be made that helps organisations and individuals to calculate the total cost of travel and to see what the trade-offs are (different time of arrival, longer travel time, larger carbon footprint, higher price, …). 
  • The solution needs to have a big impact and shouldn’t be limited to use only within Ghent University. The ambition is to make a worldwide blockbuster that is free to use and financed with an alternative business model.

In the solution different aspects need to be kept in mind such as user friendliness, accurate calculations and support for integration with other travel programmes.

A couple of different use cases are:

  • An individual plans a family trip and wants to see the impact on their famiy budget and on climate.
  • A multinational company with subsidiaries across Europe organises a monthly meeting in one of its offices with physical attendance of all sales directors. The company wants to see the trade-offs: cheapest solution, minimal loss of time for all sales directors and minimal environmental impact.
  • A travel planning app (e.g. Rome2Rio or Amadeus) wants to add the carbon footprint to the proposed mode of travel.
  • Employees in a multinational company enter their travel expenses in the company ERP system or in an app (e.g; Rydoo – Xpenditure). The company wants to monitor on a monthly basis how big the carbon footprint of each subsidairy and the company is.
  • Game with a leaderboard to select the most environmentally aware travelling sales man.

This challenge is in collaboration with EIT Climate KIC.

Join this project

Do you want to work on a challenging project in one of the courses you follow? Let us know and we’ll bring you in contact with the contact person for this challenge. If other students are already working on it we’ll bring you in contact as well.

students are working on this challenge

What has been done already?

Ghent University already changed its policy related to travelling to cities in the area. For staff it is not easy however to see how this impacts their footprint and to make a good choice for longer travels.

There are some use cases listed that need to be included in the tool.

What are the next steps?

List the different use cases and needs of the tool in more detail.

Create a prototype of the tool.

Create a business model for the tool.

Expected outcome

A working prototype of the tool that achieves the needed requirements.

A business model that comes with it and that doesn’t charge the end user.