CIP Projects Spring 2022

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, a recording of a recent information session, a syllabus, and student experiences here.

Ready to apply? Click here and fill out this form. Applications Due Friday, 12/24.

Spring 2022 Projects

To read the full project descriptions, click the titles.

1) International AlcoBev Expansion for Indian Integrated Conglomerate

Organizational Background

Company A is a diversified, integrated and sustainable conglomerate, rooted in innovation, quality and customer centricity. The Company is one of the largest integrated sugar manufacturers in India and a market leader in its engineering businesses comprising Power Transmission business and Water & Wastewater treatment solutions.

Project Context

In 2021, the company launched its Brands division. With two established modern distilleries for the production of high quality Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA) already in place and a strong technical team, the Company strategically forayed into the Potable Liquor market with Indian Made Indian Liquor (IMIL) towards the end of Q3 FY20.

Project Summary

The Indian spirits industry is segmented into IMFL (Indian Made Foreign Liquor) and IMIL (Indian Made Indian Liquor). The IMFL category accounts for almost 72% of the market and Whisky dominates the overall Spirit Industry with a market share of ~65%. IMIL is consumed majorly by Socio-economic C & D class, comprising ~40% of Indian population and products have an alcohol strength varying from 28% to 36%, dominated largely by a local fruit flavour. It is highly regulated with thin margin market. Brand loyalty is very low and distributor plays a significant role in making a brand a success in a highly price sensitive market. Branding/ advertisement/marketing have almost no role to play in this market except promotions at point of sale.

Objectives and Deliverables

Identify the Top 3 countries Company A should consider for expansion and formulate the Business case & Go-To-Market Strategy for launching Company A’s Whisky Brands (Premium & Deluxe Category) and Craft Gin, covering the following:

  • Total Market Size (Volume & Value perspective)
  • Role of Innovation (by including tech-based malts in Whisky Segment or Botanical preference in Craft Gin), considering Gin, around the world, is going through this renaissance
  • Volume and revenue projections envisaged for next 3 years
  • Other brands that have done well – case studies to go by. Best practices: Key learnings from any Indian/regional players successfully launched their brands in the recommended markets in the last 5 years
  • Consumer profile we should target and nuances to be careful of
  • Regulatory landscape including but not limited to duties & tax structure, brand approvals & label registration, etc.
  • Pricing Strategy: Margin structure & competition benchmarking
  • Sales & Distribution: Strategy for On-Trade & Off-Trade channels, Route to market-Direct or via partner, exclusive distribution rights, credit policy, warehouse & logistics, etc.
  • Marketing Strategy: What does the GTM look like and what would steady state spends be as a percentage of revenue basis ATL & BTL & Trade schemes.

2) What is the Future of Leisure & Hospitality Industry and How Do We Help Businesses of Today Prepare For It?

Organizational Background

Company B is a British-American multinational risk management, insurance brokerage and advisory company. The firm is the third largest insurance broker in the world. It operates in more than 140 countries and has a workforce of more than 45,000 employees.

Leisure and hospitality industries have faced an extraordinary range of risk and uncertainty in recent years. Risks surfacing from accelerating shifts in technology have been compounded by rising interest in sustainability, regulatory complexity, and a never-ending talent shortage. And of course, inevitably, COVID-19.

Major drivers include rapid innovation and the increased proliferation of technology, including digitalization of products and services, industrial and mobile technology solutions, demand for on-demand delivery, industry competition with new entrants disrupting traditional business models and the expansion of connected infrastructure enabling virtual and digital transformation.

In-house research (will be made available to you) has led us to consider the three macro areas to explore further:

  • Technology
  • Talent
  • Sustainably

Problem Context

Ideas for primary topics for students to research

  1. Hotels & Accommodation
  2. Health, Wellbeing & Fitness
  3. Visitor Attractions & Venues
  4. Pubs, Bars & Nightclubs
  5. Cafes & Restaurants
  6. Gaming & Gambling

Explore the direction and outcomes of the macro trends above. Potential broad areas for a deeper dive, include (main interest – what’s next, what don’t people know):

  • Interconnected nature of the emerging risks (technology, talent and sustainability)
  • ESG (Environmental, social and corporate governance) and its impact on the L&H Industry
  • Regulatory changes and norms and their effects on the sub-sectors individually

Questions we would like to pose to businesses within the sub sectors on consumer preferences and expectations, include:

  1. Is the trend of pandemic driven localism one for the long-term?
  2. How do consumers feel about automation and increased technology in hospitality (something businesses are leaning towards with COVID and even staff shortages)?
  3. How much business value the key trends (technology, talent and sustainability) to help businesses prioritize their approaches?
  4. Where do business see there to be the demands in the future?
  5. What do consumers think the future of leisure and hospitality will look like and why? – Surveying younger people could add valuable insight into determining possible future trends.
  6. Talent retention – ask employees what they look for to stay in the job, do they believe hospitality is a long-term career, whether they have/ would re-train in another industry etc., This might give an insight into what areas sectors should concentrate on to attract and retain talent.
  7. Which emerging risks do you believe are most underappreciated, and in need of greater understanding?
  8. What top 3 business and market drivers have the greatest impact on the ability to manage emerging risks?
  9. Respondents choose 3 risk pairs where there is unexplored but significant consequences.

3) Create a Digital Supply Chain Sales Playbook That Will Win Company C Higher Conversion Rates

Organizational Background

Company C is a multinational software company serving more than 437,000 customers in over 180 countries. It is a market leader in enterprise application software, providing the intelligence to bring together operational and experience data. By leveraging innovative technologies in the domains of machine learning, IoT, and advanced analytics, Company C aims to help the world run better and to improve people’s lives.

Project Summary

With over 100k employees globally, Company C is a market leader in enterprise software applications with a robust sales organization. Its technology enables customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and make a difference.

Company C has a best-of-suite digital supply chain offering; they are losing market share to competitors. The archetypical competitors are small, young firms that craft custom solutions and well-produced software demos. However, when it comes to integration, scaling, product value and TCO, organizations often fail to recognize the risks inherent to these bespoke solutions. In your project, consider reasonable actions that Company C can take on: marketing channels, digital assets as competitive asset, and educating the customer on perceived market perception. Deliver the sales playbook that will get Company C higher conversion rates for opportunities.

Recommendations should include and consider:

  • A true market competitor analysis including competitive strengths and weaknesses
  • A winning sales playbook –
    • What’s Company C’s Zebra? What’s the profile of perfect customer (buying profile)?
    • Marketing channels – Is Company C in in the same channels as the right decision makers and influencing them?
    • Digital Assets – Can Company C produce digital assets that can shape the market? What should Company C do differently to give a better hook and perception value?
    • How does Company C present best functionality – Company C are being attacked on technology, being old and complex.
    • How can Company C educate customers on perceived capabilities implication that can stand against any competitor. Consider: Scale, growth, integration and Organization vs Departmental.
    • Market perception turnaround
  • What is the Investment and ROI for Company C based on your recommendations?
  • Structure recommendations that can be reviewed with Company C’s President of North America & SVP of Digital Supply Chain Sales.

4) Creating a Whitepaper Comparing Crypto Insurance vs. Traditional Insurance from Publicly Traded Crypto Company

Organizational Background

Company D is a publicly traded cryptocurrency company that is planning to launch an upcoming 10% stable interest savings account for individuals, corporations, and nonprofits globally. This contrasts with traditional cryptocurrency investments, which deter many due to its price volatility. By offering 10% stable interest in cash from traditional ACH/bank wire and a debit card to spend, this company enables a much wider range of customers to enter the decentralized finance market without the same level of risk.

Project Context

As a part of this upcoming product launch, research has shown fears around insurance for even cash deposits into cryptocurrency companies due to its lack of FDIC insurance. Even though brokerage accounts (like Robinhood and Charles Schwab) are not FDIC insured, there is a psychological barrier present with cryptocurrency companies that do not exist for brokerage accounts. Additionally, with only $250,000 insured and the FDIC not having enough in its reserve account to cover the collapse of any top 5 bank, there is a huge information asymmetry gap between how safe customer deposits are in a traditional bank vs. a cryptocurrency company with overcollateralized assets.

Project Summary

This project requires research comparing the (1) business model, (2) technical architecture, (3) risk modeling scenarios, and (4) marketing/psychology around traditional insurance models and cryptocurrency companies. The company views this project as an opportunity to publish an industry-leading whitepaper dedicated to the comparison of these models. A data-driven approach will be needed, from collating third party research to primary interviews to running financial simulations. This whitepaper will be published and distributed across press releases, social media channels, and conferences as presented material.

Objectives and Deliverables

  • Understand insurance models around traditional banking and how that interplays with different stress scenarios, mechanics like fractional reserve banking, and past government legislation (at minimum in US, but if the team is ambitious they can also include the European market)
  • Understand insurance models around the cryptocurrency space and how different entities (i.e. Nexus Mutual, Bridge Mutual, Tidal Finance, Risk Harbor) are approaching crypto insurance from different business models
  • Do a qualitative and quantitative comparison of both business models under various scenarios (i.e. stress environments) with risk modeling
  • Creating a whitepaper that synthesizes findings in a white paper that can be publicly presented in various forums

5) Innovation in HR - Creating an Innovation Division for Financial Services Technologies

Organizational Background

Founded in 1934 and headquartered in Philadelphia, Company E is a 3rd generation commercial bank with approximately $5 billion in assets that provides a full suite of banking products and services. The fim’s wholly owned subsidiary, Company G, is a fintech sponsor bank – a bank that partners with & launches bank products and services for fintechs. Company G transformed from a community bank to a sponsor bank focusing on fintech’s in 2017 and currently partners with several fintechs and is expanding its partner base significantly over the next few years. To date, the Enterprise has relied on a more ad hoc and opportunistic approach to technology investment and vendor analysis, selection, and execution. Now, the Banks are looking to enhance its innovation capabilities by expanding its employment scope and focusing on innovative technological disruption in financial services, both as investment opportunities and as a way to enhance operational efficiencies.

Project Summary

The project deliverable will be to create a recommendation for a stand-alone division of the Bank enterprise focused on research & development within the financial services industry. This division will seek to solve existing and prospective business problems using next-generation technology solutions and organizational structure. This division will focus on experimenting with newer financial technologies in an effort to integrate into the Enterprise, providing operational efficiencies and new revenue stream opportunities, and expanding the Enterprise’s employment and product offerings in the marketplace while minimizing the amount of existing bank resources required to implement more nascent technology initiatives.

Objectives and Deliverables

  • With the banking industry rapidly evolving, what kind of organizational design and performance management systems can be deployed as the company seeks to innovate its technology stack and product lines more effectively. What are critical resources (vendors, employees, investment partners, etc.) required to build out this team.
  • What are industry best practices for innovation divisions in financial services; how would this team partner with existing business lines to help generate technological business & use cases and drive revenue through existing and prospective business verticals.
  • What are Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) in which to manage this innovation division; how will we identify whether the division is benefitting the Enterprise (tangible & intangible); what are the short-term and long-term costs and benefits associated with this division.
  • How will existing employees interact with the new division; what roles and responsibilities regarding the division will be held by employees outside of the division as opposed to new division employees?

The project team will present to the CEO, President, COO, and CHRO of Company E —the results should be a set of recommendations for deployment and operationalization if the company so chooses (blending theoretical frameworks with practical solutions).

6) Build vs. Buy – Creating an Innovation Investment Portfolio Strategy that Enables the firm to Leverage Positive Investments

Organizational Background:

Company F 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. Company F is also a leader in research and development in the Vaccines space.

Project Description:

With a diverse and steady set of therapeutics already on the market, Company F seeks to create an innovation investment portfolio that approaches external innovation from a Build vs. Buy approach. In determining key investment themes, the firm seeks to better understand how to build an investment portfolio that reflects the life science value chain; bringing the industry closer to patients by considering the full evolution of care from disease identification through disease progression. This potential investment portfolio should be refined to include specifically digital innovations (inclusive of patient engagement, clinical decision support, and AI-driven drug discovery. 

Deliverables and Outcomes:

  • What are the mechanisms for de-risking or accelerating a Build vs. Buy model?
  • What are the dominant directions of bringing the life science industry closer to patients from a customer centricity point of view?
  • What are the key investments themes the firm should be identifying? Which parts of the business have the most urgent needs?
  • What types of entities (small biotech’s, startups, entrepreneurs) can fill gaps in the existing portfolio and how would these add value to our business?
  • What is the ROI on this type of investment approach? 

7) Electrification Impact to Automotive & Gas-Powered Non-Automotive Consumer Products, How this trend Impacts COMPANY A Market Trends and Aligning a Distributor’s Value Proposition for Growth”

Organizational Background

Company G is a leading North American distributor of metalworking and maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) products and services.  Company G helps customers drive greater productivity, profitability and growth with over 1 million product offerings, inventory management and other supply chain solutions, and deep expertise from more than 75 years of working across industries.  Key values are:

  • Next Day Delivery – 500,000 items ready to ship
  • Dedicated Support – Expert customer care committed to help find what you need
  • Broad Selection – Get the quality you require – 1.9 million items to choose from

As a $2.9 billion company with more than 6,000 experienced associates and more than 3,000 suppliers, Company G works with customers big and small.  The company goal is to drive results for their businesses – from keeping operations running efficiently today to continuously rethinking, retooling and optimizing for a more productive tomorrow.

Problem Context

According to, CO2 emissions have grown roughly 90% since 1970, with emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes contributing about 78% of the total greenhouse gas emissions increase from 1970 to 2011. August 5, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order that targets 50% zero-emissions vehicles sales share by 2030, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell electric vehicles. Approximately 8% of total Company G revenue comes from auto & transport end market.  In order to prepare for this move from internal combustions engines to electric vehicles, Company G would like to understand what this transition entails; how this may shift MRO product consumption/demand, how this may directly impact Company G sales (potential headwinds & tailwinds) and how Company G can better position itself for the future of electrification (i.e.- product assortment, skills/training, services, etc.).  

Project Summary

This project requires an understanding of electrification (across the US and NA), automotive and gas-powered non-automotive end markets, how metalworking and MRO product categories currently play a role in these markets and what will be their growth in the age of electrification. Company G believes that over the last 5 years, the market dynamics have become more fluid and as such the strategy must be continually reviewed and potentially adjusted.  This project will have the team focus on emerging Electrification Trend, the impact to Company G’s existing val prop (product, services, etc.) and the alignment of those trends to Company G’s existing value prop and identify potential whitespace, as well as headwinds and tailwinds to growth.

Objectives and Deliverables:

  • Understand and clearly define emerging electrification trend within the durable manufacturing end market (for metalworking/MRO products and services), where it stands now and where it will be in the next 3yrs, 5yrs & 8yrs.  Potential areas of focus (in no order of importance):
    • Automotive manufacturing (including total supply chain & repair)
      • Aerospace
      • Commercial
      • Recreational
      • Public transportation
    • Gas-powered non-automotive manufacturing
      • Agriculture
      • Lawn Care
      • Generators
    • Battery manufacturing
    • Semiconductor manufacturing
    • Charging stations
    • Impact to metalworking industry (i.e. – products, skills/training, services)
    • Impact to automation/robotics/IoT (i.e. – projected growth/usage of tech, services, etc.)
    • Individual company Winners/Losers
    • “Reshoring” of Manufacturing (including identifying manufacturing & education hotspots centered around electrification)
    • “Buy American”
  • Based on those trends, overlay Company G’s current Metalworking & MRO value proposition vs the direction you see the market going and identify the key differentiators and gaps within that value proposition within specific key end markets and against specific competitors, or type of competitor or any areas where we have blind spots and might need to adjust focus

Apply For CIP Spring 2022

Click here to apply. You must fill out this form and rank your project choices to be considered.