Collaborative Innovation Program

How the Program Works

The Collaborative Innovation Program (CIP) is a unique experiential learning program that brings Wharton graduate students into real companies to solve innovation challenges. Our corporate partners propose a current business challenge they’re trying to address, and the Mack Institute facilitates student teams to work on the challenge. This is a for-credit course that runs twice a year in the Fall and Spring semesters.

Guided by Wharton faculty, students selected for the program may produce the following: industry analysis, competitor analysis, general environment analysis (trends and uncertainties including political, technological, global, and sociocultural segments), and assessment of the organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses. Specific deliverables will depend on the corporate partner’s objectives for the project.

Past projects have focused on timely topics including AI, ESG, DEI, healthcare, robotics, automotive, and more.

Student Experiences

Sarah Chung WG’22

“We had a lot of exposure to all the leaders in the company. The head of ecommerce spoke with us numerous times, and the director who was supervising our project was very involved. All the leaders that we were in contact with were more than willing to be involved. That’s not something you experience everywhere.”

Read about Sarah’s CIP experience

Andres Ramirez WG’23

“During the project, I was able to meet with my management professor and say, “This is the problem we’re working on. Which frameworks should I study?” It was great to have real world applications for the theories we were learning.”

Read about Andres’ CIP experience

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need relevant work experience in the industry for which I am applying?

No, you don’t need work experience in the same industry as the project. Having skill sets that will help you contribute to the project will be helpful but is not required. The Mack Institute will look at your overall resume for selection.

Am I at a disadvantage if I apply individually rather than as a part of a group?

No, each member of a group application will still be evaluated for the relevant skill sets and interest in the project(s) they’ve requested. The option of applying in groups simply helps the Mack Institute form cohesive teams and turn applications around in a more efficient manner.

How much time should I expect to spend on this course?

You should expect to spend as much time on this course/project as you would for any 1cu course. This course meets virtually on a weekly or biweekly basis so students can understand their peers’ progress.

Is the course open to non-Wharton students or students from other programs?

Yes. Depending on the content of the project, we recruit graduate students from other schools at Penn based on technical knowledge necessary for the project, relevant experience, interest in learning more about consulting/management, and other criteria as applicable.

In addition to full-time MBA students in Philadelphia, we also encourage students in the Semester in San Francisco and the Wharton Executive MBA program (Philadelphia, San Francisco and Global cohorts) to apply.

How will team meetings be scheduled for members in different time zones?

Working globally is a necessity of the modern marketplace. Teams will be expected to work both internally and with sponsor companies along mutually accepted meeting times. The Mack Institute will set up virtual meetings with sponsor companies once the team decides on the meeting times.

Will an NDA or CDA be required to participate?

It depends on the company/project: while some companies will not require it, others will ask that students sign a limited NDA to participate on the project.

What major will this course count towards?

This course counts towards the Entrepreneurship & Innovation major and other majors have counted it on a case-by-case basis. Please contact Joe Nebistinsky ( with specific questions.

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