Haas Undergrads Innovate with BI Norwegian School MBAs

Berkeley-Haas undergraduate students of Professor Solomon Darwin’s Open Innovation in Emerging Economies class continue to tap the global brain on Monday, March 10, 2014, when they sat down and discussed business model innovation strategies with MBAs from the BI Norwegian Business School. The Norwegian MBAs flew in from Norway as part of the Innovation Seminar under the BI School’s Corporate Executive Education program led by Professor Peder Inge Furseth. 45 MBAs joined the Haas undergrads yesterday afternoon.

Berkeley-Haas Undergrads and Norwegian MBAs in breakout sessions.
Berkeley-Haas Undergrads and Norwegian MBAs breakout session.

Since the course wraps up on April the 11th, students are almost halfway through their final business model recommendations. The breakout session with the Norwegian MBAs was an attempt to provide students with insightful feedback. As mentioned in previous posts on this blog tagged UGBA193i, the course grouped students into six separate teams that tackled specific challenges brought up by their respective corporate sponsors.

As the class’s Undergraduate Student Instructor, one of my core responsibilities is to ensure that students are gaining value from the course’s various activities.

IBM Group shares their progress
IBM Group shares their progress

Valentina Fung (BS 2014), whose team challenge was to build an inclusive and sustainable Education business model for IBM, had this to say, “Overall, I appreciated our Norwegian colleagues’ input – they brought a new perspective to our thinking that I believe is sometimes lost, which is the social aspect. As part of Team IBM, our challenge is to develop a sustainable and inclusive model of education for India and there are a lot of social, cultural and public sector concerns to think about when we are developing the model, that often gets overlooked by our class. For example, yesterday one of the MBAs brought up the concern that some political figures might frame IBM’s entry into the education space in India as an echo of colonialism, which I think is really pertinent given that India is a proud democracy that is still an emerging market. I definitely welcomed their insights!”

GE Team rep presents with his Norwegian counterpart
GE Team rep presents with his Norwegian counterpart

General Electric team’s Hayley Yerkes (BS 2014), whose challenge revolved around enabling profitable business models that benefit all stakeholders in rural India’s telemedicine ecosystem, had equally positive thoughts to share about the experience: “Having the Norwegians visit and review our business models was an invaluable experience. They brought ideas and perspectives that our team hadn’t even considered which pushed our model in new directions – especially regarding customer adoption and distribution.”

The Berkeley-Haas Undergrads and BI Norwegian MBAs listen intently to current presenters
The Berkeley-Haas Undergrads and BI Norwegian MBAs listen intently to current presenters

David Park (BS 2015) of the Xerox Team had a great experience working with the Norwegian MBAs as well. He shares, “they brought a fresh perspective to our subscription pricing model by advocating pay for performance as well as premium fees for our service. In that short period of time, we were able to make many changes to our model and we’re glad to have had the opportunity.” Their challenge required the team to come up with recommendations for Xerox to gain a competitive edge in emerging economies through new and innovative business models for its technology and managed print services business. The team has decided to focus on the Education space.

The SAP Student Team collaborating with the Norwegian MBAs
The SAP Student Team collaborating with the Norwegian MBAs

SAP Team was provided the task of developing new and innovative organizational structures to enable the company’s R&D centers to support business models in emerging economies. The Haas SAP student team are geared towards building startup incubator models for their corporate sponsors’ innovation challenge. The SAP group’s student representative, Arushi Saxena (BS 2014) thought the Norwegians were really receptive and enthusiastic about their project. “We had a really diverse group where backgrounds ranged from PR to politics to utilities, but their insight on the software/ERP space was actually quite insightful and relevant. We got some good ideas!”

The two other teams are Apollo Hospitals and Philips, who are working on Healthcare Business Models and Lighting Systems, respectively.

The students have invested myriad time and energy into their projects. As the class’s uGSI, I am only too excited to see their open innovation business models come into fruition exactly a month from today.

Denice Sy
Class of 2014

Photo credit: Ⓒ 2014 Fredrik Aaserud and Denice Sy

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