Business Innovation Lab (formerly known as Integration Project) is the capstone educational experience of the MMM Program and a unique opportunity for companies to innovate in collaboration with our students and Northwestern faculty. Students will work in teams of four to six under the guidance of a faculty adviser to apply best-in-class methodologies as they tackle your business problem. Typically, the final deliverables are presented to senior-level executives within the partnering organization. The result is an outstanding educational experience for the students and high-caliber, economical problem-solving support for your company.
Innovation-driven companies collaborate with MMM students each year on Business Innovation Labs through discovering, designing, and delivering valuable business solutions in a real world context. The benefits to collaborating are clear:
Firms get economical consulting from top engineering and management students and faculty.
Students get to work on a problem of real importance and apply their growing expertise in design and management.
Both Northwestern and firms such as yours develop long-term partnerships that create opportunities for future talent recruitment and faculty enrichment.
Let's work together.
Download the Business Innovation Lab brochure and proposal form to learn more about partnering with us on a project.
You provide a challenging project and resources. Our students do the rest. Let's get started!
An Interesting Project
MMM Business Innovation Lab projects should live at the intersection of business, design innovation, and technology. Our students seek a challenging project in areas of current study and interest. The most successful and most engaging projects often come from the following areas:
Clean Technology Innovation
Human-Centered Design Research
New Product Development
A Project Champion
To produce substantial results, the student team needs easy access to a person inside the company with the ability to champion the project along, the capacity to provide pertinent data and feedback, and the authority to make things happen.
A project is much more engaging for students and likely to have an impact within the company when there is sufficient interest at a high level within the company’s infrastructure. We encourage partner companies to schedule the final presentation with an audience of executive leadership or other senior managers.
What you'll need to know
Business Innovation Lab typically takes place over a 10-week period in fall quarter (from September to December) or winter quarter (January to March). Project proposals should be submitted no later than August 1 for fall quarter projects and no later than October 1 for winter quarter projects. At the beginning of the project, a kickoff meeting will be held with the partner organization, student team, and faculty adviser. The kickoff meeting is typically held on site at the company, but may also be held on campus or via web conference.
Project champions will then participate in regularly scheduled check-ins (typically web conference or call) throughout the 10-week period. Final presentations will take place in the final week of the project and should involve a senior audience from the company. Final presentations may be held at the company site, on campus, or via web conference.
Our project partnership ask is $25,000 per project. Your partnership will support faculty and administrative costs as well as project expenses, which typically include research, travel, and supplies.
It is important for educational purposes that our students may exchange some information about their Business Innovation Lab experiences. We don’t require that the entire project content be shared, in fact many Business Innovation Lab partners request a non-disclosure agreement between the student team and company, but a key deliverable for the students will be an executive summary of the project that is acceptable for sharing in a learning environment.
If you would like to share and promote your participation externally, you are welcome to do so. We are always happy to promote projects and partnerships at a level that works best for the partner organization.
Please direct questions or interest in additional information about Business Innovation Lab to:
Business Innovation Lab has offered an opportunity for companies across industries to collaborate with MMM students on real projects delivering real solutions.
Students designed innovative solutions to increase recycling in McDonald’s by making it as simple, easy, and enjoyable as the restaurant experience.
Students used ethnographic research and analysis to explore new potential market segments for Maserati, as they look to expand their current customer profile.
The Field Museum
Students looked for insights into why Chicago’s African-American and Hispanic residents are visiting the Field Museum less frequently than the national average and developed strategies for the museum to engage these groups.
Students looked for insights into why Millennials are eating less pasta and developed a unique innovation plan for Barilla to bring pasta to the next level of “sexy, better for you, and convenient”.
Students created a suite of innovative products and services focused on nurturing the relationships of Hallmark customers in “refirement” (vs. retirement) - people with a positive outlook about getting older and redefining life after 50.
Students researched customer behaviors related to changing their flights and used their insights to design methods for United to better predict change fee revenue and pilot a new change fee structure.