The team of UC Davis MBA students emerged as one of 10 finalists from the first round of the Challenge, which took place online in October. The finalists were winnowed from 321 teams representing 83 business programs in 18 countries. The finalists -- including the UC Davis MBA team -- are competing head-to-head from November 17-19 at the Thunderbird campus in Glendale, Arizona. The winning team receives $20,000.
The competition gives MBA students an opportunity to solve real-world business problems as well as experience the corporate pressure to innovate.
Company sponsors, including Hilton Hotels, IBM, American Express and the United States Postal Service, have joined with the competition to challenge students to develop creative solutions.
Each of the 10 finalist teams will present their innovative concepts and answer questions from a panel of representatives of the event sponsors. The presentations will be judged by senior executives and innovation experts from non-sponsor companies. Judges will score each team's concept plans in six categories: originality, value proposition (how the concept meets/creates customer need), bottom-line results, competitive advantage, feasibility and overall presentation.
In addition to the UC Davis team, the finalists include teams from the Indian School of Business; University of Rochester (Simon); Vanderbilt University (Owen); MIT Sloan School of Management; Case Western Reserve University (Weatherhead); Cornell University (Johnson); Thunderbird, The Garvin School of International Management; and Harvard Business School.
The UC Davis team is the only team from a California business school among the top 10 finalists. Members of the UC Davis team -- all first-year MBA students -- are Aaron Burda, Rocky Mitarai, Benedict Mok, Thomas Nelson and Shilpi Sharma.
"Two key factors have helped to drive our success," said Nelson. "First, we are diverse in our skills, experience and backgrounds. Second, we work very well as a team with shared leadership, tasks and accountability. Combining these factors allowed us to piece ideas and information together in an innovative way."
More information about the competition is available at http://www.innovationchallenge.com
About the UC Davis Graduate School of Management
Established in 1981, the UC Davis Graduate School of Management is internationally recognized for its distinguished faculty, entrepreneurial students and an MBA program that emphasizes innovation and collaboration. The School supports more than 400 students in Daytime MBA and Working Professional MBA programs on the UC Davis campus, in Sacramento and in the San Francisco Bay Area. The School also offers a technology management minor program for undergraduates and a business development program that links researchers and MBA students to spur the commercialization of scientific research. Both U.S. News & World Report and The Wall Street Journal rank the UC Davis Daytime MBA program among the top 50 nationwide. The UC Davis Working Professional MBA Program ranks 16th in the nation based on graduates' return on investment, according to Forbes' 2005 business school survey. For more information, visit www.gsm.ucdavis.edu.