Graduate Management News
 
 
 
Column

The Road From Idea to Innovation

In this column, GMAC Management Education for Tomorrow Fund Director Allen Brandt concludes a year-long quarterly series on business school innovation. Winning schools in the MET Fund’s Ideas to Innovation Challenge, a two-phase initiative to improve management education, will be named this spring.

By Allen Brandt

Business schools around the world are sharpening their focus on teaching entrepreneurship and cultivating innovation. Government, academic and business leaders recognize that economic growth depends on job creation, that job creation depends on business innovation—and that business schools and management programs need to take a leading role in nurturing business innovation.

 As the world looks to business schools for innovation, the GMAC Management Education for Tomorrow Fund is taking the lead in bringing innovation in management education itself. Nearly two years ago, the MET Fund committed US$8 million to bringing innovation to the sector as a whole. We launched the two-part Ideas to Innovation (i2i) Challenge by putting up US$260,000 for the best answers to one simple query:

What one idea would improve graduate management education?

In Phase 1, we received 650 ideas from all over the world and awarded US$260,000 for the top 20. In Phase 2, which concluded in December, we invited business schools to send us proposals to implement one or more of the ideas. We received a total of 25 proposals from seven countries. Among them, there were concrete plans to implement 19 of the 20 winning ideas, and three schools plan to work together to implement different pieces of an idea to share across campuses. Soon, we’ll announce which of the proposals we’ll fund to turn those ideas into reality.

Our funding will be the culmination of the i2i Challenge, but we hope it’s just the start. We’ve identified more great ideas than we can fund, and now business schools around the world have developed concrete plans to implement these ideas. With funding from other sources, these plans can still become reality.

And even that’s not the end. When we judged the ideas, one key criterion was how replicable the idea was. Some of the winning ideas depend on collaboration among schools and people around the world, but others can be implemented within a single campus or program. Just about all of the ideas can be adapted for the individual circumstances that exist on any campus.

Through the i2i Challenge, the MET Fund holds up these ideas as inspiration for further innovation among management programs around the world. Check the MET Fund website to see all of the ideas and watch as the ideas become true innovations at winning business schools. 

In previous columns, Sir Andrew Likierman  explained why it’s important for London Business School to teach innovation, Raghu Tadepalli showed how entrepreneurial thinking drives innovation at the Babson College Olin Graduate School of Business, and Xiongwen Lu explained how technology innovation and management innovation work together at the School of Management at Fudan University.

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