On the weekend of March 21-23, our school hosted the first Grand Business Challenge in Digital Health (formerly the Tech Strategy Case Competition). Sponsored this year by Merck IT, the GBC brought together 16 teams from around the world for a weekend of competition and collaboration. The event is organized jointly by the Graduate Programs Office and the MS-MBA Program. The first round of competition pitted four teams against each other to offer their ideas for how Merck can leverage technologies to solve some of the biggest problems in the industry: Soaring health care costs, poor patient adherence and non-standardized treatments across the globe. Judges from Merck and Microsoft picked a winner from each group; that team went on to the final round on Saturday.
While this format is rather familiar from other case competitions, the GBC is unique in offering multiple opportunities for collaboration among and across the teams, and including representatives from our sponsors. The first collaboration round happened within the groups of four teams, before the winner was announced. Everyone in the room was invited to question, build on, challenge, and adapt their own and other teams’ ideas in a two-hour session.
Next, on Sunday, the teams not presenting in the final had an opportunity to create an entirely new business idea for the Microsoft BizSpark Challenge. Participants could form new teams across school lines, and all received input from Merck mentors. The BizSpark ideas were submitted as presentations or papers.
The finalist teams on Saturday presented to a nearly full auditorium of students, alumni and employees from Merck and Microsoft. The ideas ranged from a “clinic in a backpack” to a platform for linking together patients, caregivers, healthcare providers and other participants in the ecosystem. The judges asked tough questions during the Q&A sessions, challenging the teams’ ideas and abilities to think on their feet. We incorporated two new elements into the final presentations this year – live streaming of the presentations, and an audience choice vote.
After all of the teams presented their ideas, we all enjoyed a wonderful reception as we waited for the judges to make their decisions about both the Grand Business Challenge and the Microsoft BizSpark challenge. Finally, the moment arrived. The team from The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University won first place – congratulations! Second place went to University of California, Los Angeles Anderson School of Management, the team from Boston University School of Management took third, and University of Calgary Haskayne School of Business won fourth place. Microsoft was impressed with many of the ideas submitted in the BizSpark Challenge and awarded five grants in kind.
|Congratulations to the team from Fuqua!|
Neil Yajnik was the student chair of the event, and he did a fabulous job of working with everyone to develop the new format, as well as ensure that everything ran smoothly all weekend long. I was involved as the Volunteer Coordinator, and really enjoyed working with both our student volunteers and the teams and judges.
Lara is a 2nd year MS-MBA student who has lived most of her life in Norway, despite having an American passport. Before coming to BU she worked in IT, Sales and Marketing and is hoping to find an opportunity to do something cool in a technology firm - UX, product development, or something in those veins. One of her biggest surprises over the past two years is learning how fun it is to play broomball!