Students from the Global Online MBA class of 2016 were on campus for the Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Design Module (IE&D) at the end of January. The module is an opportunity for students who’ve just finished Year 1 to put their learning into practice.

In multi-disciplinary task forces, students developed an innovation strategy for UniBREW, a multinational beer company, to increase its profits. They covered all aspects of a business strategy from portfolio management, market research and financial analysis.

“We started off by brainstorming a problem and from there you develop that idea using strategies learnt in lectures on innovation,” Global Online MBA student Adam Painter says, “You’re trying to find a viable opportunity for UniBREW to leverage the idea into a research and development project.”

Throughout the two weeks, students delivered regular pitches on their progress, including a three minute Pecha Kucha presentation, with input from coaches on their innovation strategy, business idea and value proposition.

On Friday 27th January, students pitched their overall strategy and business case to the “executive committee”, a panel of Professor Bart Clarysse, Dr Paola Criscuolo, Clare Brass who specialise in innovation, entrepreneurship and commercial design.

The innovative energy in the room was infectious. Team Fusion pitched their strategy, the creation of a new UniBREW beer with the citrus taste of lemon or grapefruit and an added vitamin boost. The product would target 18-34 year olds, they said, and build UniBREW’s bond with its customer base over a quality product.

Team Beerista introduced “old school taste, new school tech” to their proposition, advising UniBREW to acquire “Beerista”, a machine that uses beer concentrate to dispense beer at home (think a coffee machine, but for beer).

Global Online MBA student Milly Barker says, “To come up with our business idea “Beerista” we used some of the techniques learnt in lectures and some from our own experiences. The evolution of the idea on the IE&D project really replicates what happens in a real process and it was a useful experience in business planning and strategy.”

Another innovative take on the consumption of beer, Team Mistry, advised UniBREW to acquire a smaller company that manufactures and sells beer vapour shots. Sitting at the intersection of the niche and beer market, they said, the acquisition would take the product to a global scale.

Team Barvolution’s business strategy centred on the experience of pub goers. On average, they said, people wait 12 minutes to be served, one in four abandon the queue and 20% leave the bar, decreasing sales of UniBREW’s products. Their solution: self-service beer walls serving beer electronically and using payment technology. The product, they said, increases sales and improves the pub experience.

Another idea was to invest in micro-breweries. Global Online MBA student Eoin Hinchy says, “We pitched an in-house venture capital team where we would go and invest in high potential, high revenue growth micro-breweries.”

The lively discussion and chatter amongst the students on entering the room made it difficult to believe that this was the online cohort.

“Working online is different from working face-to-face”, Adam says, “In my group there are students from Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Nigeria and Hong Kong and we have to produce a report together. Skype, WhatsApp and Office 365 is incredibly useful.”

“Working like this is an enabling experience: the industry is only going to get more global so this will become quite a normal phenomenon.”