For over three years, the executive director of the Haas Undergraduate Program, Erika Walker, and the associate director of the Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation at Haas, Professor Solomon Darwin, have carefully planned and strategized the development of a travel study course. Their goals for doing so were to expose students to unique learning opportunities not available in the traditional classroom setting, in addition to encouraging global thinking. Walker’s and Darwin’s dedication to the project has finally paid off this year, as UGBA193i, the open innovation course for emerging economies kicks off in India in early January 2014.
UGBA193i is a three-unit course involving a group of students touring various local and multinational companies based in India. Company offices to be visited either are sponsors of the trip (travel bus, hotel, food, etc.), is a member of the Berkeley Innovation Forum (BIF), or nonprofits who reached out to Haas. Multinational companies participating in the course are IBM, SAP, Philips, Xerox, and General Electric. Local companies include Selco, Idiom, and Apollo Hospitals. Students will be mentoring Indian youth while at India to help them build and develop business models for their business ideas. Upon their return in California, groups of five students will then begin their consulting projects with a company of their choice from the eight sponsors to provide strategic recommendations for transforming their sponsors’ existing business models.
The students will be staying in Bangalore, also known as the Silicon Valley of India.
The inaugural dinner for the class was held on December 12, 2013, at the Wells Fargo Room in Cheit Hall. The food was generously provided by the Durant House of Curries, as the course would be focused on helping the Indian youth in their entrepreneurial aspirations; matching the restaurant’s ideals for India.
Highlights of the event included a visit from Haas Dean, Rich Lyons; Executive Director of the Institute for Business Innovation (IBI), Maria Carkovic; and Erika Walker; as well as an introductory lecture by Professor Darwin to the concept of open innovation and business models.
In his talk, Dean Lyons discussed the importance of leading through innovation. More than just excellence in the academia, Berkeley Haas is strongly devoted to developing innovative business leaders that disrupt enterprises after graduation. The India travel study course is only one but very strong example of the business school’s efforts to provide experiential learning opportunities to students in a global setting.
Moreover, through 193i, students will also gain access to vast networking possibilities. In addition to building relationships with company executives, Haas alumni from India will also play an active role in guiding and connecting with students throughout the trip. Dean Lyons encourages students to take advantage of the numerous opportunities provided for their benefit.
Carkovic, on the other hand, spoke about the role that IBI plays in supporting the UGBA193i course. IBI is the umbrella institute for number of centers, providing resources for research in various areas of innovation. The Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation is under IBI and is responsible for funding the lodging and miscellaneous expenses for the class’s operations in India. UGBA193i is also only one of Garwood many successful programs, among which is the BIF and sponsoring the recently concluded UGBA190T Open Innovation course.
Walker was the last among the three guests to speak. In her spiel, she discussed the vision she and Prof. Darwin had shared years ago about hosting a course abroad. Thus, she is immensely excited about the pilot program finally coming to fruition in Spring 2014. Walker is also very happy about the positive responses to UGBA193i. The course can only take 25 students to India, and she was proud to share that the Haas Undergraduate office received over 40 applications for enrollment. She also commends Darwin for investing much time and energy into realizing their plans.
Professor Darwin wrapped up the event with a lecture. Darwin is a visiting professor to myriad universities around the world, namely Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Wuhan University, and International University of Business & Economics in China; University of Zurich, Switzerland; Lancaster University, UK; University of Turku, Finland; BI Norwegian Business School, Norway; Korean University, South Korea; Fraunhofer Institute, Germany; Euro‐med, School of Management and EM Lyon School of Management in France; Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA; and Peter Drucker School of Management, Claremont, CA.
For two hours, Darwin provided a comprehensive overview to open innovation, the basics of a business model, as well as many illustrations and video clips depicting how the two can merge. Nonetheless, open innovation in the US and that in emerging economies, such as India, are very much different. Prof. Darwin introduced the term jugaad which mean frugal in English. According to Darwin, students will learn to practice jugaad innovation in India where resources are constrained and the market has less disposable income. Unlike the margin-centric focus of American companies, emerging markets look at sales volume. Darwin assured students that they will learn more about the Indian economy once the course commences on January 2nd, 2014.
This is definitely a unique way to start off the New Year!
Class of 2014