Meet the team leaders of the top 3 teams, and see behind the scenes of the Econometric Game.

Written by Ciloë Sans

The Econometric Game 2023 took place between the 19th and 21st April 2023. During this day, 26 universities from around the world came to compete against each other to solve an issue happening in our world by applying their econometric skills. This year’s theme was about malnutrition in Africa. The ranking of the Econometric Game 2023 is as follows:

  1. University of Warsaw
  2. University of Bologna
  3. Vrije University

I had the pleasure of interviewing the team captains of the winning universities and a member of the committee. Let us dive into what they had to say about their experience of the Econometric Game 2023 (from third to first place, followed by the committee perspective).

3. Vrije University: Gabriele Mingoli

From left to right: Marcello de Wit, Gabriele Mingoli, Barend Spanjers, Benjamin Weggelaar

How did you hear about it?
A professor from my department (econometrics) was looking for new masters and PhD students for this year’s Econometric Game and I said why not participate this year.

Why did you decide to apply for the Econometric Game?
I decided to apply for it because it is a fun experience as you get to meet new people, to see other universities participating and the cultural backgrounds are diverse. Also, all these people are studying econometrics so this is a challenge for the game.

Can you describe the composition of your team?
Our team consists of four male students, two of them (myself included) are doing our PhD in Econometrics and the other two are currently in their master’s of Econometrics and Data Science.  All the team members are Dutch, except myself, who is Italian.

As an Italian person, how did you feel working with Dutch people?
Generally, there were no cultural obstacles as I knew well the other PhD student and the two master students are clever so it was nice to work with them as a team.

Can you summarise what this year’s game was about?
This year’s topic was very interesting. It was about food security, so what is the prediction of a lack of food, for instance. We had to use econometrics in order to predict that in a certain province, they would not have enough food in the next year (factors such as climate change were considered).

How did you feel about being third of the Econometric Game?
It felt very nice to be third as we did not expect it due to the fact that we were many gooduniversities with good students. We were not sure of how far we could go, so we were happy with the outcome. Also, as we gave a good model with good results, I was proud of the team for the job we did.

What did you enjoy the most during the event?
What I enjoyed the most was meeting new people and there were a lot of international colleagues. Seeing different backgrounds and everyone was nice.

If you were to do it differently, what would you change in your preparation?
We did not prepare for the Econometric Game as it is hard to do so because the topic is different every year, so if we prepared more, it would have been better.

What advice would you give to universities considering joining the econometric gamein the future?
I would advise people to join as it is nice for everyone to get the opportunity to participate and meet new people. Obviously, if more people come, it is nicer.

2. University of Bologna: Filippo Pavanello

How did you hear about it?
One of my PhD cohorts participated in the previous edition, and I knew that he had been really happy about the experience.

Why did you decide to apply for the Econometric Game?
Our University promoted the event, and I was really curious about it. The idea of challenging myself, and so my knowledge, even in topics that are not my field of study, really stimulated me.

Can you describe the composition of your team?
Our team was composed of two PhD students and two second-year MSc students in Economics, and it comprised one female and three males.

From left to right: Claudio Lissona, Filippo Pavanello, Virginia Pagliero, Francesco De Alberti

Can you summarise what this year’s game was about?
This year’s game focused on predicting infant food insecurity and malnutrition in the Sahel region of Africa. We were tasked with meticulously preparing the data and making a carefully justified method choice to tackle this challenge.

How did you feel about being runner-up of the Econometric Game?
Being the runner-up of the Econometric Game felt amazing! It was a fantastic achievement for us and a real recognition of the incredible work done by the awesome people who trained and supported us since day one at our university. We could not be prouder of what we accomplished.

What did you enjoy the most during the event?
It was surely to make acquaintances and have fun with so many people from all over the world!

If you were to do it differently, what would you change in your preparation?
Personally, I would just tell myself to be more relaxed during the first day.

What advice would you give to universities considering joining the econometric game in the future?
First and foremost, I highly recommend that they join the competition. Regardless of the final outcome, participating in it would provide their students with a fantastic and enriching experience. Secondly, I suggest investing time in preparing the students, as it would broaden their econometric skills and give them a wider range of options to apply in the competition.

1. University of Warsaw: Mateusz Buczyński

How did you hear about it?
We have long known about the competition – myself included. This was actually my fourth time participating in the Econometric Game. I think we learned the most about it word-of-mouth from fellow students who have previously taken part in the competition.

From left to right: Mateusz Buczyński, Mateusz Kijewski, Michał Kunstler, Michał Woźniak

Why did you decide to apply for the Econometric Game?
In our case, we were selected by the University to represent it in the Econometric Game. After performing well in the previous year’s competition and securing the third position, we were determined to challenge ourselves further and strive for an even better outcome. We wanted to surpass our own records and showcase the talent and capabilities of our university’s students in  the field of econometrics.

Can you describe the composition of your team?
Our team consisted of four members, with two members named Mateusz and two members  named Michał. In terms of educational background, two of us are PhD candidates, with myself  being in the final stages of completing it, while Michał is in the middle. The other two members, Michał and Mateusz, are both in the process of completing their Master’s degrees.

Can you summarise what this year’s game was about?
This year’s game revolved around the pressing issue of malnutrition in Africa. Our task was to develop a comprehensive model that could accurately predict the level of malnutrition in different regions of Africa. We had to analyse various socio-economic factors, demographic data, and health indicators to create a robust predictive model that could assist policymakers in addressing this critical issue effectively.

Last year, you were 3rd and this year 1st. How did you feel about winning it?
Winning the competition was an incredible feeling for our team. It was a mixture of surprise and immense satisfaction. While we were pleasantly surprised by our victory, deep down, we had a strong belief in our abilities and the hard work we had put into preparing for the competition. Being crowned as the champions of the Econometric Game validated our efforts and served as a testament to our skills in econometrics and problem-solving.

What did you enjoy the most during the event?
Of course, the announcement of results!

If you were to do it differently, what would you change in your preparation?
Reflecting on our preparation for this year’s Econometric Game, we genuinely believe that it was nearly perfect. There is little we would change about our approach. We were well-prepared, focused, and managed our stress effectively throughout the competition. Perhaps if we were to do it differently, we would emphasise even stronger teamwork and communication strategies to enhance our collaborative efforts further.

What advice would you give to universities considering joining the econometric game in the future?
Never forget to enjoy the experience. While the competition can be intense and demanding, it is essential to maintain a sense of fun throughout the journey. Ultimately, the Econometric Game is not just about winning but also about personal growth, skill development, and forging lasting connections with fellow participants. Without having fun, what’s the point?

Committee perspective: Arthur van den Bergh

Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your role in the Econometric Game committee?
My name is Arthur and I am a Bachelor’s student in Econometrics. I have taken part in other committees in the VSAE and have tried to join the Econometric Game committee for the 2022 edition but I was not taken and I applied again for the 2023 edition and I was taken this time. My role in the committee was that I was in charge of finding a case so I had to make sure we had one for the game. Then, I hosted the opening ceremony and was present during the Econometric Game to make sure things were running smoothly.

What was this year’s Econometric Game about?
The theme of the 2023 edition was about child malnutrition in Africa. The participants had to come up with models to predict levels of child malnutrition in the Sahel (a region in the Northern-Central part of Africa, below the Sahara). Then, for the finalists, they had to go deeper in their analysis where they had to write a predictive model about food security in Chad.

How did you come up with this year’s task?
As I was handling the case of the Econometric Game, we had many contacts of professors at the UvA that knew about the Econometric Game. I had to send them emails to get some ideas and our aim was to get a case related to sustainability and social development.Someone from the company Analytics for a Better World, who was also a professor at the UvA, knew another professor who was doing analytics and had a case within the world of programming. He suggested we do malnutrition in Africa and this is what we wanted as we were looking for a case related to sustainability.

What is a challenge that you have faced during the Econometric Game?
A main challenge is how many people you had to keep in touch with throughout the committee period. You also had to send them reminders, ask for updates and the number of people you had to reach out to was very diverse as there were many different groups of people; for example, universities, sponsors, and more. It was a slow process so I would advise future students planning the Econometric Game to send emails as soon as possible.

How was your experience of the Econometric Game as a committee member?
Before the game, it was rather easy to keep in touch with the case maker but when the game started, the experience was even better. Although it was very tiring because you had to be there early before everyone arrived at the location and there were some stressful moments, for example hosting the opening ceremony was quite scary. But it was very exciting to see an international atmosphere and I especially enjoyed the first dinner as I talked to many people from different universities, everyone was relaxed as they were done with their cases and we selected the finalists during this dinner. This is what I hoped to get out of the event, so I was very happy. Seeing the teams happen and people being together was the best thing in this game.

Would you advise the Econometric Game committee to future VSAE students that want to join?
Yes, I definitely would recommend it even if you have to start emailing companies, universities, and other people as soon as possible. The Econometric Game is a very cool event with many like-minded individuals from around the world. This also shows what the field of econometrics can accomplish and this is impressive. Also, you should not forget to take time to appreciate how special the event is because it is easy to forget how nice and special this event is.

University of Warsaw wins the Econometric Game 2023 – University of Bologna and Vrije Universiteit place second and third

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