University of Michigan - Business Engagement Center

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Mbusiness Link - A publication of the University of Michigan Business Engagement Center

MBusinessLink is a quarterly e-newsletter produced by the University of Michigan's Business Engagement Center. The publication brings together all of the news on events, research, resources, and opportunities for industry engagement at the University of Michigan.

Road MAP To Business Expansion

Adaptive Materials Inc. needed a market-entry strategy-in-a-box for selling its innovative fuel-cell systems to industrial users in the commercial market. To create the necessary road map that would lead to customers in this promising market segment, the Ann Arbor-based manufacturer turned to the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business and applied to host a Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP).

The MAP program places teams of first-year MBA students in companies for seven weeks to tackle knotty business-development challenges and come up with innovative solutions.

"Our company already held development contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense for military applications of our portable power and fuel-cell products, but we had not done enough research on the commercial-industrial space to formulate an actionable plan," explains Chris Kondogiani (MSE '99, MBA '09), director of commercial business marketing. "Through MAP, we saw an opportunity to increase our marketing bandwidth and move our commercial business forward. We just couldn't pass it up."

During the 2010 winter term, the company asked a five-member MAP team to conduct research on the commercial market, compile a list of customer contacts, identify "pain points" and assemble a pitch book for use in future sales marketing.

"The team gave us much more than we expected," Kondogiani reports. "They not only provided customer-contact information, but also reached out to prospective customers and identified market segments that were very interested in our products. In addition, they gave us the tools to evaluate new market opportunities by prioritizing and ranking Web-based inquiries for other uses of our fuel-cell systems."

Adaptive Materials is now poised to execute its new strategy. "There is still a lot of work to be done," Kondogiani says. "However, the MAP team laid the groundwork for our commercial-market entry by giving us a full range of action plans that we can use to pursue commercial sales."

The Ross School's MAP program is one of many student project opportunities open to companies that want to leverage university talent. "MAP sponsors get high-caliber teams that bring the latest concepts and tools from the Ross School as well as an external perspective," says Gene Anderson, senior associate dean for academic affairs at Ross. "In a pretty compact time frame, the students provide actionable recommendations that can have positive impacts on participating companies and, in turn, help revitalize the Southeast Michigan economy."

Click on video for more information about MAP.    

More information on other student project opportunities: visit or contact the BEC office at (734) 647-1000.