High-performing bachelor’s students at IE University have the opportunity to collaborate, give back and learn all at the same time.

Students from any IE University bachelor’s program who rank in the top 5% of their class can be invited to become part of the IE Honours Program, which fosters academic vigor and professional prospects through events, presentations and more. 

Last year, the IE Honours program launched a special challenge for members that is now an annual tradition. It’s a chance for high-performing students to put their academic learnings into practice and make a positive impact on the world around them. 

The 2021 edition centered around business innovation: a collaboration between IE University and Amazon Alexa. Students had to come up with different ways in which voice technology like Amazon Alexa could help improve education at the new IE Tower. Over the course of three weeks, teams worked under expert guidance to prepare their pitches in front of a panel of judges.  In 2022, the project expanded beyond IE University.


This year, IE University Honours Program students took on a social impact challenge at Hospital Universitario La Paz, neighbor to the IE Tower. Their goal was to improve the relationship between various stakeholders at La Paz Hospital including patients, families, medical staff, donors and more. Hospitals, like businesses, need to innovate in order to offer the best customer experience possible.

The winning team was made of up seven students from all over the world: Alessandra Tabea Miritz, Carla María Ortega Espallardo, Chia-Yu Lin, Leonhard Alexander Friedrich, Luis Santiago Benatuil Angulo, Penelope Victoria Piraino and Valeria Hernández Sánchez. A big congratulations to this diverse and hard-working team for their excellent performance!

They proposed an internet radio channel called PAZ.io, which would be streamed from the TV screens in patient bedrooms. Most patients at La Paz Hospital are over 65 years old and stay for 6 days on average. That’s why this team decided to use radio as the ideal means of communication in this context, especially as it’s inexpensive and scalable, which is critical to success for an organization as large as La Paz Hospital. Additionally, a radio channel is something that is familiar to and user friendly for this age group.

Content on the radio would include live updates about “hospital news,” providing a sense of community for chronic patients. The radio would also have a WhatsApp number for family members to send personalized messages or song requests to their loved ones. Finally, external organizations would also be able to host radio talks to inform listeners both at the hospital and at home about their services.  All in all, it is an accessible and affordable medium that helps connect patients, families, staff and external stakeholders, creating a sense of interpersonal connection while also providing a platform to efficiently share critical information. 

Impact for society, and impact for students

One of the winners, Penelope, shared additional details about her experience participating in the challenge. Her group kicked off their planning with an intensive weekend at IE University’s Segovia campus. In just 24 hours, they had to come up with an “innovative solution for La Paz Hospital in a ‘hackathon-like’ setting.” 

But they didn’t have to do it alone. Over the course of the weekend, all of the groups were able to meet with numerous mentors from IE University, visit the hospital, and adapt their ideas based on feedback. The weekend’s work culminated in a presentation of their final product to a panel of judges.

For Penelope, the most important part of the event was related to the “ideation phase” of their project. They had to come up with “value-driven strategy,” and even though their idea in its essence was simple, she learned how even simple concepts that truly solve problems are the best ones to implement. 
At IE University, the value of education goes beyond the classroom. Through initiatives like the IE Honours Program, students start to see the real-life positive impact of their ideas in their communities long before they graduate.