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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University April 2, 2007 | Vol. 36 No. 28
SAIS Team Takes Third Place in Business Challenge Competition

By Felisa Neuringer Klubes

A team of five international relations graduate students from SAIS finished in third place out of more than 85 teams from 13 countries competing in the Sustainable Innovation Summit Challenge hosted by Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Ariz.

SAIS was the only non-MBA school participant in the group of 10 teams from around the world competing March 21-24 in the final round of a competition held in conjunction with Thunderbird's first Sustainable Innovation Summit. MBA teams from Instituto de Empresa in Madrid, Spain, and Duke University's Fuqua School of Business won first ($20,000) and second ($5,000) prize, respectively.

Seth Colby, Landon Loomis, Chris Meyer, Chris Saunders and Rachna Saxena comprised the SAIS team, taking home a $3,000 prize.

The challenge in the final round was to develop innovative and sustainable business concept plans that addressed real-life challenges faced by global corporations Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co. All teams had to address the questions proposed by each company.

Merck was looking for opportunities to shape the overall health care landscape in the emerging markets of China or India, thereby producing sustainable markets for its products. The SAIS students suggested strengthening the rural insurance system in China by improving access and efficiency. The team proposed a fellowship program in which Merck would pay partial tuition for medical students in return for their services in rural hospitals. It also included an administrative workshop to train and build the capacity of local insurance providers.

Johnson & Johnson wanted to know how it could provide its high-tech health care solutions in emerging and developed economies at an affordable price for growing middle- and lower-income consumer groups. The SAIS team proposed a sustainable program in which Johnson & Johnson would create networks of micro-entrepreneurs supported by microfinance institutions to supply diabetic testing services in Brazil. The business model called for testing strips to be sold individually, thereby increasing affordability for lower income consumers.

"Innovative real-world solutions presented by the student teams that participated in the Thunderbird Sustainable Innovation Summit exceeded our expectations in many ways," said Neil Currie of Johnson & Johnson. "We all gained new insights that will contribute to immediate action in the short term as well as help shape our responses to challenges that corporate and community leaders — including the students who participated — will continue to wrestle with for years to come."

The winners were announced March 24 at an awards dinner marking the final event of the summit, a four-day event that showcased innovative business solutions that reflect a commitment to economically, environmentally and socially sound business practices.


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