CIP Projects Fall 2023

The Mack Institute’s Collaborative Innovation Program (MGMT 892) connects students with business leaders and researchers in the study of innovation management and its practical application. Through this program, students collaborate with our corporate partner companies to address existing challenges within their organizations.

Find an overview of the Collaborative Innovation Program here.
See the Fall ’23 Syllabus here.

Click here to apply by August 17, 2023

Fall 2023 Projects

To read the full project descriptions, click the titles.

1) AI Synergy: Strategizing and Operationalizing Intelligent Transformation

Organizational Background: Ricoh Digital Services specifically focuses on delivering innovative digital solutions to businesses and organizations worldwide. Leveraging its expertise in imaging technologies and document management, Ricoh Digital Services helps clients optimize their document workflows, enhance productivity, and improve efficiency. The company offers a wide range of services, including document digitization, content management, workflow automation, information security, and cloud-based solutions. 

Project Summary: Ricoh aims to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to enhance its business operations and achieve long-term success. To accomplish this, Ricoh’s leadership is entertaining a two-pronged approach to AI adoption: a strategic layer and a tactical layer. 

  • At the strategic layer, the focus is on developing and implementing strategies that will position the organization for sustainable growth through the effective integration of AI technologies. The goal is to align AI adoption with Ricoh’s strategic business objectives, ensuring that the company remains competitive and agile within the rapidly evolving digital landscape. This top-down approach involves identifying the necessary framework and operating models to embrace AI and leverage its potential across the enterprise. 
  • On the tactical side, Ricoh’s Portfolio Strategy & Development team, operating within the Digital Services Center, seeks to establish an AI practice that complements and enhances existing product development efforts. This bottom-up effort involves understanding the fundamental elements required to build and sustain an AI practice within the organization. The group aims to minimize disruption to ongoing operations while maximizing the quality of output by leveraging AI capabilities effectively.

Objectives and Deliverables: 

1. Market Assessment Analysis 

  • Conduct a market assessment of AI frameworks and operating models implemented by organizations of similar size to Ricoh (Exclude hyperscalers / AI producers from this assessment; Google, Microsoft, etc.).
  • Questions for consideration: 
    • How have these models been successful? 
    • What potential challenges, risks, and barriers could arise during the implementation of the AI as markets and technology evolves?

2. AI Framework Document & Implementation Plan 

  • Define the key principles and guiding framework for AI adoption, considering ethical considerations, risk management, and alignment with business objectives. 
  • Define key components of the AI Strategy 
  • How to match the value and potential of AI to strategic business priorities  
  • Questions for consideration: 
    • How will the success of the AI framework be measured? What key performance indicators (KPIs) will be used? How will these metrics drive continuous improvement in the AI framework? 
    • Should the short-term members be structured as a committee / community of practice?  What resources should be sourced externally?   
    • What types of talent and skills are required for successful AI implementation?  What are some strategies for attracting, developing, and retaining AI talent? 
    • How should corporate development initiatives be factored into the framework & strategy? – Build, buy, partner 
    • What organizational capabilities are required to be in place prior to adopting a long-term AI integration plan to increase success, while minimizing risk? 
    • How can the AI framework be scaled across different business units and functions effectively? 
    • What communication strategies will be effective in explaining the benefits and addressing any concerns about the AI framework? 

2) Intelligent Software Testing with AI/ML Innovations

Organizational Background: Coforge is a high growth, global digital services, and solutions provider, headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey and India that enables its clients to transform at the intersect of domain expertise and emerging technologies to achieve real-world business impact. A focus on very selected industries (Insurance, Banking and Travel & Transportation), a detailed understanding of the underlying processes of those industries and partnerships with leading platforms provides us a distinct perspective. Coforge leads with its product engineering approach and leverages Cloud, Data, Integration and Automation technologies to transform client businesses into intelligent, high growth enterprises. Coforge’s proprietary platforms power critical business processes across its core verticals.   

Project Summary: Coforge is looking to drive thought leadership in autonomous software testing driven by AI as a way to bring software testing solutions to a customer base that is constantly looking for the “surround innovation” around their technology platforms and software development.

Our offering of testing services covers the complete spectrum of the software test lifecycle, and we are constantly looking to innovate and bring new solutions to our customers. As they continue to modernize their technology and platforms, continue to focus more on digital, Agile and DevOps, we strive to keep pace with “next generation” approaches to ensuring quality through innovative, technology-driven testing. It is worth noting, that while the world of software testing has progressed and matured, it still lags behind in the areas of true innovation. Many of Coforge’s primary competitors employ thousands and thousands of people (manual testers) to drive testing services with their customers. Coforge is looking to be a disruptor in the Testing Services marketplace by looking at the problem of quality (and testing) differently and brining innovation across the software test lifecycle. 

Objectives and Deliverables:  

  • While still in a nascent stage, there are early AI-driven concepts starting to emerge, including the following use cases that we would like to consider for this project: 
  • Test Case Generation: Generative AI algorithms can be used to automatically generate test cases. By analyzing requirements, specifications, and historical data, AI models can create diverse and comprehensive test scenarios, including edge cases and corner cases. This helps in improving test coverage and identifying potential issues early in the development process. 
  • Automated Test Script Generation: Generative AI can automate the generation of test scripts based on predefined test scenarios or user interactions. This helps in speeding up the test script development process, reducing manual effort, and improving test coverage. Generated test scripts can be used for functional, regression, and performance testing. 
  • Intelligent Test Prioritization: Generative AI can help prioritize test cases based on their criticality, impact, and probability of failure. By considering various factors and dependencies, AI models can optimize test execution schedules, focusing on high-risk areas and critical functionalities. This helps in efficient resource allocation and maximizes the effectiveness of testing efforts. 
  • Load Test Scenario Generation & Workload Modeling: Generative AI can assist in workload modeling by analyzing historical usage data and identifying patterns and trends. AI models can help determine the appropriate mix of user types, transaction volumes, and concurrency levels to simulate in performance tests. This helps in creating workload models that accurately represent the anticipated usage patterns of the system. 
  • Log Analysis and Anomaly Detection: AI-powered log analysis can identify patterns and anomalies in system logs and identify potential issues or performance bottlenecks. By leveraging generative AI algorithms, quality engineers can quickly analyze and interpret large volumes of log data, leading to faster troubleshooting and problem resolution. 

3) Leveraging AR and VR for Residential and Mixed-Use Developments in Real Estate

Organizational Background: Magnolia Quality Development Corporation Limited (MQDC) operates on the principle: ‘For All Well-Being’. This means that the company strives to provide the best quality of life not only for humankind, but for all living beings. The residential and mixed-use developments built by MQDC employ innovative, sustainable, and safe materials. The company’s records show that MQDC standards are never less than award-winning.  

MQDC Idyllias: Building on MQDC’s core value ‘For All Well-Being’, Idyllias is a global venture intended to bridge virtuality and reality. A metaverse for good, Idyllias is a place where every positive action, big or small, real or virtual, has a multiplier effect on the future and well-being of the living world. This metaverse offers extensive experiences for ‘Better Self’, ‘Better Community’, and ‘Better World’. 

Project Summary: MQDC Idyllias As part of the company’s diversification strategy, MQDC Idyllias is positioned to be the digital extension of the company’s principles and core value ‘For All Well-Being’. This venture is intended to bridge virtuality and reality by providing immersive experiences via XR (AR/VR/MR) in the form of smart home solutions, digital twins (real estate), gamification, etc. In essence, Idyllias can be described as a metaverse. However, in recent times, the merest mention of the term elicits overwhelmingly negative and/or skeptical reactions. While the components are still favourable (technologies related to metaverse), the sum (metaverse) is not.    

  • What factors have contributed to the decline of metaverse development initiatives and investments?  
  • How can the decline of metaverse development initiatives and investments be overcome?  
  • What potential opportunities and strategies can be identified to revitalize and foster sustained growth in the metaverse industry? 

Objectives and Deliverables: 

  • Identify and define the business problem and/or opportunity 
  • Provide a suite of recommendations 
  • Develop a business model for implementing one of the recommended solutions 
  • Identify the MVP with a USP for the indicated solution 
  • A plan for implementing the project. 
  • Well-supported recommendations based on the findings and analyses addressing any adjustments, improvements, or further actions required for the case. 
  • Implementation plan with a clear timeline and milestones to ensure a smooth execution of the business model. 

4) Biofuel / Biopolymer Joint Venture Strategy

Organizational Background: Triveni Engineering & Industries Limited (TEIL) is a diversified industrial conglomerate having core competencies in the areas of sugar and engineering. The Company is one of the largest integrated sugar manufacturers in India and amongst the leading players in its engineering businesses comprising Power Transmission business and Water & Wastewater treatment solutions. TEIL currently has seven sugar mills in operation at Khatauli, Deoband, Sabitgarh, (all in western Uttar Pradesh), Chandanpur, Rani Nangal and Milak Narayanpur (all in central Uttar Pradesh) and Ramkola (eastern Uttar Pradesh). While the Company’s Power Transmission (Gears) manufacturing facility is located at Mysuru, the Water & Wastewater treatment business is located at Noida. The Company currently operates 6 co-generation power plants located across five sugar units, with 104.5 MW grid connected co-generation capacity. All of the Sugar units are FSSC 22000 certified. The sugar is supplied not only to household consumers but also to bulk consumers. The Company has supply chain relationships withleadingm multinational beverage, food & FMCG companies, pharmaceutical companies and leading confectionery producers. It also has a strong presence in branded sugar market through its brand “Shagun”.   

Project Summary:

  • Identify potential new products for Triveni in the Bio polymer and bio plastic categories which involve a low capex and use ethanol as feedstock.  
  • Create a market study for the above and identify smaller US based companies which may benefit by setting up manufacturing based in India. Help explore potential business models (JV/license). This also includes but is not limited to:  
  • Understanding the Bio polymer and bio plastic domain, data collection around the segments, existing offerings in the markets and potential sectors that the company could venture in the future. This includes products in need, market opportunities, regulatory framework, new products that might be launched, etc.  
  • Define the segments from TEIL perspective and prioritize GTM strategy and phased approach for market entry. 
  • Exploring the opportunities in the industrial segments. Other areas may also be looked upon, depending on the market sizing and applicability. 
  • Creating linkages around potential JVs in terms of international markets which TEIL may look at. 
  • Identifying the sustainability aspect on the above. 
  • Identifying/Exploring the channel(s) to attract companies to set up manufacturing in India, or defining international markets for biopolymer use cases. 

Objectives and Deliverables: A detailed report covering the above key areas (not limited to) with a summary deck for discussions. The deliverables will be phased in a structured manner, covering all the project activities listed above.  Monthly meetings with the VP Strategy for discussing the key outcomes (Decision- Go/No Go) 

5) Enhancing Plasma Donors' Experiences through Integrated Touch Points

Organizational Background: CSL Behring is a biopharmaceutical company, manufacturing plasma-derived and recombinant therapeutic products and providing them to people in more than 100 countries. Its line of therapies includes products for the treatment of bleeding disorders such as hemophilia; primary immune deficiencies (PIDD); hereditary angioedema; inherited respiratory disease; and neurological disorders in certain markets. The company’s products are also used in cardiac surgery, organ transplantation, burn treatment and to prevent hemolytic diseases in the newborn. The firm is also a leader in research and development in the Vaccines space. 

Project Summary: The objective of this project is to reimagine the experience of blood plasma donors by leveraging technology and innovative strategies across various touch points. By combining AI for donor processing and scheduling, wearables to improve the preparation and recovery experience, loyalty programs and incentives for predicting donor returns, we aim to shape a comprehensive and seamless donor journey. 

  • In addition to MBA students with expertise in cost-saving measures and process improvement, this project aims to include students from Penn’s Integrated Product Design program who specialize in human-centered design. This multidisciplinary approach ensures a holistic perspective, incorporating both operational efficiency and user-centered insights. 
  • Integrating wearables into the donor journey has the potential to improve the preparation and recovery stages of the donation process. Wearable devices may be able to provide real-time monitoring of vital signs, ensuring donors are adequately prepared and monitoring their well-being post-donation. By leveraging this data, personalized recommendations and feedback can be provided, leading to a safer and more comfortable experience. 

Objectives and Deliverables: 

  • What does plasma donation look like? Efficiency and efficacy of motivation, scheduling, visitation, intake, donation experience, output 
  • What are the key indicators of success in the customer journey that will contribute to realization of value? What technologies can be leveraged to make this a reality? 
  • Which competitors provide a nuanced and effective customer journey that encourages customer retention? What key factors are considered? 

6) Advanced/Chemical Recycle Technologies and Bio-Materials Evaluation

Organizational Background: Audia is a plastic fabrication company based in Washington, Pennsylvania. They were founded in 1995 by the Andy family, who have been in the plastics industry for over 60 years. Audia specializes in the design and manufacture of custom plastic parts for a variety of industries, including automotive, medical, and industrial. The company has a wide range of capabilities, including injection molding, blow molding, extrusion, and thermoforming.  

Project Summary: The purpose of this project is to evaluate the latest advancements in advanced recycling technologies and bio-materials, considering their potential application within our business. With the increasing global demand for post-consumer recycled feedstocks, it is crucial for us to anticipate changes in the availability of consistent recycling streams. Additionally, the emergence of alternative recycling methods necessitates a comprehensive understanding of these technologies to determine their viability and potential benefits for our organization. 

As the demand for post-consumer recycled feedstocks continues to grow, it is expected that the sources of these materials will undergo significant changes. Therefore, it is essential to explore advanced recycling technologies and bio-materials as potential solutions. This project aims to thoroughly evaluate these technologies, gaining insights into their capabilities, limitations, and potential applications within our business. 

Objectives & Deliverables: Scope: The scope of this project encompasses the following key objectives: 

  • a. Evaluation of Advanced Recycling Technologies: 
    • Identify and assess the latest innovations in advanced recycling technologies. 
    • Analyze the effectiveness and efficiency of these technologies in transforming post-consumer waste into valuable feedstocks. 
    • Understand the commercial scale timing for these technologies, including their readiness for large-scale implementation. 
    • Determine the potential value that each advanced recycling technology can offer to Audia customers. 
  • b. Evaluation of Bio-materials: 
    • Explore the advancements and potential applications of bio-materials as alternatives to traditional feedstocks. 
    • Examine the feasibility of integrating bio-materials into our existing business processes. 
    • Assess the benefits and challenges associated with adopting bio-materials, such as their environmental impact and scalability. 
  • c. Future Outlook: 
    • Investigate the research and development pipeline for the next 5 to 10 years, anticipating upcoming advancements and trends in advanced recycling technologies and bio-materials. 
    • Identify potential opportunities for early investment or joint development partnerships with technology providers or research institutions. 
    • Provide strategic recommendations for integrating advanced recycling technologies and bio-materials into our business operations, taking into account customer preferences, market dynamics, and financial considerations. 

7) Evaluating the Potential for Disrupting the Mortgage Title Industry through Blockchain, SFTs, and AI Technology

Organizational Background: Coforge is a high growth, global digital services, and solutions provider, headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey and India that enables its clients to transform at the intersect of domain expertise and emerging technologies to achieve real-world business impact. A focus on very selected industries (Insurance, Banking and Travel & Transportation), a detailed understanding of the underlying processes of those industries and partnerships with leading platforms provides us a distinct perspective. Coforge leads with its product engineering approach and leverages Cloud, Data, Integration and Automation technologies to transform client businesses into intelligent, high growth enterprises. Coforge’s proprietary platforms power critical business processes across its core verticals.  

Project Summary: Title insurance is a type of insurance that protects homeowners and lenders from financial losses arising from defects or problems with the ownership of a property’s title. It provides coverage for potential issues that may not have been discovered during the title search and examination process, such as hidden liens, encumbrances, fraud, errors in public records, or disputes over property ownership.  

The ownership interest in a property represented by the title, may change hands for several reasons over the course of time. The current method of tracking such ownership changes is mostly manual and involves searching through electronic databases or physical title plants to identify the chain of title. This process is error-prone and can involve duplication in cost to the entity trying to establish the chain of title for whatever purpose.  

On the other side, the homebuyer can incur anywhere from 0.5% to 1% of the home purchase price in costs to acquire a title policy. Should the homebuyer refinance her own property, she would still be required to purchase title insurance. Any time a property is sold, the new buyer incurs the same cost to insure title. 

Objectives and Deliverables:  

Coforge would like to explore the opportunity that this problem presents and understand the following:  

  • Is it commercially feasible to transfer title records to a blockchain, thereby reducing the need for duplicative searches?  
  • What are the impediments – technical, legal, procedural, etc. that might prevent such a business model from succeeding?  
  • How can AI / LLMs be leveraged to reduce instances of fraud / drive more predictability for potential claims?   
  • Can NFTs be used as evidence of title ownership?   
  • Define a future-state business model that disrupts the existing title industry through low-cost title insurance, easy verification of title authenticity and greater security for all entities involved in a real estate transaction.   

8) Leveraging AR/VR in Connected Living Technology Insurance

Organizational Background: Assurant, Inc. is a Fortune 500 company and a member of the S&P 500 traded on the NYSE under the symbol AIZ. Headquartered in New York’s financial district, with executive Offices in Atlanta, HA, Assurant, Inc. is a premier provider of specialized insurance products and related services in North America and other international markets.  

Project Summary: Assurant’s Connected Living business provides a wide range of products and services that help protect and connect consumers’ connected devices and appliances. These products and services include: 

  • Mobile device insurance: This type of insurance covers your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device in case of a covered loss, such as a theft, loss, or damage. 
  • Extended protection programs: These programs extend the manufacturer’s warranty on your appliances, electronics, and other connected devices. 
  • Technical support: This type of support helps you with troubleshooting and repair of your connected devices. 
  • Identity theft protection: This type of protection helps you protect your identity and financial information from fraud. 
  • Data security solutions: These solutions help you protect your data from unauthorized access. 

Assurant’s Connected Living business also offers a variety of white-label solutions that can be customized for different partners. These solutions can help partners to: 

  • Generate new demand: By offering insurance and protection products, partners can help to de-risk purchases and increase customer satisfaction. 
  • Increase customer loyalty: By providing excellent customer service and support, partners can help to create repeat customers. 
  • Monetize the mobile lifecycle: By offering trade-in and upgrade programs, partners can help to generate revenue from used devices. 

 Objectives and Deliverables 

Assurant Connected Living would like the Mack Institute to research and recommend how AR/VR technology can be leveraged to bring new / differentiated products and services to Assurant’s customers, dealers, partners and service providers to enable growth or improve efficiency or reduce cost across sales, distribution, fulfilment, claims and servicing (ie: across the entire insurance value chain) 

  • Study the various key factors and parameters of AR/VR and advise on the impact and success of this technology in the insurance domain and in the Connected Living space. Include competitor analysis, customer segment analysis with gap assessment and scenario analysis on the use of AR/VR in the marketplace 
  • Understand and analyse what competition is doing in this space and where Assurant Connected living is leading and lagging 
  • Identify use cases for Connected Living where AR/VR can be leveraged to drive growth and profitability. 
  • Highlight any legal and compliance implications 
  • Share recommendations, comprehensive strategy and a Go-To-Market plan on how Assurant Connected Living can be a leader in this space 
  • Recommend an approach, plan and roadmap to implement the recommendations 

Essentially answer the following questions 

  • What is the current state of AR/VR and how is it used in Insurance & Warranty world? 
  • How and where can AR/VR be leveraged within Assurant’s value chain for Connected Living? 
  • Where is AR/VR most impactful for Connected living? 
  • What will it take to enable the use of AR/VR from a people, process and technology perspective? 

9) Strategic Roadmap for Digital Smart Supply Chain Management

Organization Background and Context: Tata Communications is one of the world’s leading digital ecosystem enabler and provider of digital platform and solutions that power 60% of the Fortune 500 customers across the global. It provides integrated, globally managed technology solutions that underpin today’s fast-growing digital economy, to the extent that 30% of the Internet routes globally ride on our more than 220,000 route km of fiber option network, the largest in the world. The company is shaping the future and investing in emerging innovations in the areas of IoT, Edge computing, customer interactive platform, 5G, AR/VR, Next gen connectivity, security and predictive analytics using AI, with a view to continue to improve our relevance to our strategic customers while scaling our business to generate unmatched value for our stakeholders. 

Corporate Venturing, Emerging technologies and innovation group at Tata Communications, is responsible for driving company wide innovation initiatives, incubate internal ventures to kill or scale, external partnerships with promising technology startups and universities, build point of view and shape companies’ strategy in diff emerging technology areas, drive the AI program towards impact and also drive our customer co-innovation program.  

Project Objectives:  

Focus of the project shall be on designing the strategic roadmap for Tata Communications to bring to bear a state-of-the-art Digital Smart Supply Chain Management portfolio leveraging the power of digital technologies to improve resiliency, transparency / visibility, efficiency and scalability of increasingly complex cross industry supply chains, with a multi-billion dollar market potential.  

  • Understand and articulate the end-to-end value chain across different industries (focus study on – Manufacturing (discrete/process), Retail/FMCG, Automotive/auto-components and Healthcare. 
  • As-Is state of the SCM process across the verticals, key challenges and issues faced today and associated business impact 
  • Points of similarity and points of difference across the various verticals 
  • Role technology can play in resolving these challenges. What will the future supply chain look like in each of the industries. 
  • Use case journeys and verticalized industry solutions to optimise and scale supply chains  
  • Tata Communications’ play and potential offerings with a mix of existing and new partners, technology & products 
  • Potential customer impact (value creation) and revenue projections for Tata Communications from the SCM solution 
  • GTM and action roadmap 

The team is expected to adopt a good mix of primary and secondary analysis through leveraging Wharton’s database and industrial connections. The research would include: 

  • Benchmarking data from think tanks, analysts, consultants, etc. 
  • Secondary research on comparable companies  
  • Primary research / validation with industry experts and analysts, on problem statements, value chain analysis and proposed solution 
  • May include focused group discussions with few of Tata Comm’s strategic customers. 
  • Tata Comm’s portfolio understanding, strategic priorities and ecosystem approach. 

The project team will brief the team during scoping and the team will work closely with the Corporate Innovation team. 


A project report, with interim milestone checks / validation, covering: 

  • Supply chain issues / challenges  
  • Key emerging trends and technologies across smart supply chain 
  • Outline potential and relevant use case journeys across the identified industries that Tata Communications can enable.  
  • Tata Comm opportunity areas in the smart supply chain space 
  • Integrated smart supply chain offering including roadmap.  
  • Identify a GTM strategy for Tata Comm to take the SCM portfolio across to customers.