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Battle of the Blues

It’s a war game between Cambridge and Oxford MBAs for ‘designer foods’

On 30 April 2012, MBA students from Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, and Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, will be battling against each other in a strategic ‘war game’ in the battle for ‘designer foods’ – who will win, big pharma or consumer goods?

Rivalry between pharmaceutical and food companies and their nutritional products has created a ‘nutraceutical’ market which is defying the current global economic downturn. Some analysts argue that is because consumers are turning to these super foods with medicinal properties as a means of improving their health, potentially reducing society’s overall healthcare costs.

Representing four well-known global food and pharmaceutical companies – Abbott Nutrition, Danone, GSK Consumer Healthcare and Nestlé Health Science – two sets of MBA students from each School will take part in ‘The Battle for Designer Foods’.

Set to take place at Saïd Business School, the strategy event has been organised and sponsored by research and consulting firm Fuld & Company who runs war games for FTSE 100 and Fortune 1000 companies around the globe, and who will facilitate the game.

The aim is to help the students understand a company’s competitive situation, anticipate competitor actions, predict likely marketplace reactions, evaluate strategy, make successful decisions and avoid costly mis-steps. Each team will develop a competitive strategy for the company they are representing to present to the other three teams, who will have the opportunity to provide crucial analysis and critique. The teams, who are allowed to talk to each other and negotiate deals, will return to the forum to present and critique each other’s final strategies.

Following each presentation, the judging panel will rate how each team has performed, with Fuld & Company awarding the winning team a £3,000 prize to be equally distributed to each team member. The four companies being represented will be present at the event and the students will be in effect enacting a live consultancy project, where elements of the strategies they come up with may indeed be adopted.

Dr Jochen Runde, MBA Director at Cambridge Judge Business School, said:

The competition is unique for how it introduces the realities of representing real firms operating in the nutraceutical sector, within a simulated game-theoretic framework that forces competitors to think deeply about what their rivals may be up to. Our students will learn a great deal, and odds are that the participating companies will do so too.”