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BYU MBA students win international business challenge

Beat out 154 other institutions, including Harvard and Duke

By combining creativity with ingenuity and resourcefulness, a team of Master of Business Administration students from Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Management won the 2003 Thunderbird Innovation Challenge, coming in first out of 154 MBA student teams from around the world.

The five second-year MBA students--who beat teams from Duke and Harvard--pocketed $20,000 for their inventive ideas and were named "The Most Innovative MBA Team in the World."

"It was an honor for us to meet and compete with talented MBA students from around the world," says Scott Porter, a BYU student from Las Vegas, Nev. "The innovation experience was extremely challenging, but also really exciting."

Innovation Challenge organizers, Robert Lipton and Anil Rathi of Idea Crossing LLC, said BYU's team won because they not only developed a good idea, but created a specific product platform with future growth implications. "They definitely had the most innovative presentation," Rathi says. "It wasn't just stuffy business-suit style; they really pushed the limits for a business plan and business presentation."

Porter teamed up with MBA students Colin Jones, London; Dave Roach, Auburn, Wash.; Aaron Hopkinson, Park City, Utah; and Geoff Howard, Virginia Beach, Va., to demonstrate their business skills and creativity to Fortune 500 companies in this first-ever Innovation Challenge hosted at Thunderbird, the American Graduate School for International Business, in Glendale, Ariz.

About 750 MBA students from The Wall Street Journal's top 50 business schools around the world were invited to compete for the innovation crown by developing new products and services for sponsoring companies.

After teams submitted their product plans, a group of judges, consisting of professional innovation consultants, chose the Marriott School team as one of five finalists. These teams were given 10 hours to develop a product plan for The UPS Store, one of the sponsors of the competition. The teams each had 20 minutes to present their ideas to the judges.

"In was a good exercise in performing under pressure," Roach says. "The Innovation Challenge gives students an opportunity to show their creativity in a business setting which is valuable to them and the companies that are looking to recruit innovative talent."

The BYU students thought outside the "brown box," developing a new idea for the mail services giant that impressed the judges and The UPS Store corporate executives.

After winning the competition, BYU's team decided to donate a portion of the $20,000 to the Marriott School to help other students develop innovative ideas.

"We want to make sure that the legacy of innovation and entrepreneurship continues at BYU, so we are donating some of the winnings back to the Marriott School to help support programs that build future innovative business leaders," Porter says.

Additional information about the Innovation Challenge can be found on the Web at: http://www.innovationchallenge.net.

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