Companies Seek Student Help at Darden

November 15, 2006

Nov. 15, 2006 -- Many major corporations are turning away from high-priced consultants and in-house teams to solve problems that help them maintain a sharp competitive edge.  This relatively new phenomenon – known on the Street as “crowdcasting” – lets massive industries go directly to the rising generation of business leaders to evaluate real-world situations and come up with solutions. Innovation Challenge is the largest of these efforts – and it’s at the Darden School of Business this week.

 Darden will host MBA students from around the country Nov. 16-19 as they solve actual business problems for the top-tier global brands that sponsor this event, including Hilton Hotels, DaimlerChrysler, Whirlpool Corporation, American Express-OPEN and GE Money.

These companies are drawn to open-source innovation (or “crowdcasting”) because events like Innovation Challenge open up their most difficult business dilemmas to fresh ideas – for a tiny fraction of the costs normally associated with research, development and marketing on a global scale.

Participating students also benefit, because the event creates networking opportunities form which careers are often born. All participants are graduate students with at least three MBA candidates on each five-member team.

Innovation Challenge was created by Los Angeles-based Idea Crossing, which has joined forces with Darden to host the event at the school's world-class facilities in Charlottesville. The event is co-sponsored by The Batten Institute, a business think-tank within the Darden School.

Idea Crossing was founded in 2002 to advance "open innovation" - connecting passionate consumers with their favorite companies to create new products or services. The company's early days coincided with the growing trend of 'open source' creation in the software community.
The Innovation Challenge mission is to create a level playing field for learning and practicing real-world business innovation. The collaboration with Darden will boost educational value and increase networking opportunities for the entire Innovation Challenge community.

Consistently ranked among the finest MBA programs in the world, The Darden School of Business is a professional school that works to improve society by developing leaders in the world of practical affairs. The School creates and delivers educational programs and conducts and publishes research to advance the knowledge and practice of the business community.

The Batten Institute fosters new practical knowledge about business innovation, entrepreneurship and change. The center was established in 1999 through the generosity of Frank Batten, former chair of Landmark Communications in Norfolk, VA.