With $18 billion in revenue in 2017, the multinational engineering firm AECOM has been named by Fortune Magazine as one of the World’s Most Admired Companies for three years running. In the spring semester of 2017, eight NJIT graduate students took part in AECOM’s first intrapreneurship competition.
Unlike traditional student entrepreneurship competitions, students work with AECOM inventors across the globe to generate strategic business plans for their inventions, experiencing firsthand how innovation works in a multinational corporate setting. Inventors vying to be selected by AECOM for commercial investment submitted over 700 innovations, and 70 students from 12 universities across the globe participated.
Mentored by Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship Cesar Bandera, NJIT MBA students Komal Dangi, Jonathan Jorda, Marelis Bernal, James Colonias, Parth Dudeja and Shivani Patel, along with M.S. business student Wai Chan and M.S. mechanical and industrial engineering student Subash Mannanal, worked with four of the 25 semifinalist AECOM teams, three of the 10 finalists, and the winning team. All the students were enrolled in the graduate entrepreneurship course “New Venture Management” (MGMT640) offered at Martin Tuchman School of Management. This course teaches students the tools of entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship, from ideation, business model validation and strategic bootstrapping to finance, marketing and intellectual property protection.
“What makes the AECOM intrapreneurship competition unique is their commitment to innovation and to the competition itself,” said Bandera in 2017. AECOM showed this commitment by running the competition again during the spring 2018 semester at an even larger scale, with more participating universities and students, including 31 students from NJIT who interfaced with AECOM innovators and the Law Schools of Emory University and Fordham University (see map). In 2018, NJIT students were again in three of the 10 teams reaching the finals. Final results will be announced later this summer. NJIT is commitmented to the competition, and students interested in participating next year should prepare by taking MGMT640 this fall.
“The biggest takeaway for me was no matter how complex the idea sounds and how niche the market is you can always navigate your way through,” said Mannanal. Colonias, who has his own entrepreneurial aspirations said, “I benefited by learning about a new industry and collaborating with the inventor, my professor, my student partner and the AECOM team. This experience will prove fruitful, as I am currently raising funds for my new financial services firm. I recommend any student with the opportunity to participate in a future AECOM project to take full advantage of this incredible opportunity.” Bandera concluded, “NJIT students are not just skilled in technological innovation, but also in the business of innovation.”