An MBAX (Technology) student on exchange in the US has won first prize in a business competition. Dean-Mark Clemente, from Australia, is completing his final semester at the Ross School of Business, which is located in the state of Michigan.

The Social Impact Challenge was focused on the economic development and entrepreneurship in the city of Flint, Michigan. The case problem called for solutions in making better entrepreneurs in Flint and subsequently reviving neighbourhood centres and city corridors for economic development.

"Before leaving on exchange, I knew I wanted to make a positive impact in my host city. Initially, I thought about collecting some 100 spectacles from my social network, and distributing them to restore sight to some of the most marginalised individuals in Detroit and Flint. Legal restrictions put paid to that idea, so when I learnt about the Social Impact Challenge, I jumped at the chance to leave a positive legacy in Michigan", said Dean-Mark.

“It was a hard-fought battle because all teams offered solid financial models and creative solutions to the problem. We were satisfied with our performance, and we were cautiously optimistic that we'd get to the top of the podium. When they announced our team as this year's winner, naturally we were all shocked and elated.”

Dean-Mark Clemente says their strategic marketing plan addressed short and long terms goals by developing the city’s human, knowledge, spatial and social aspects. They proposed an MBA style curriculum where entrepreneurs could gain Entrepreneurship certificates from the Innovation Hub.

The team also wanted to create ‘digital natives’ who could then hunt for digital contracting jobs worldwide. They felt traditional artists and craftspeople could (with time) turn their design ideas to digital products to be sold as services online. Finally, they suggested a re-patriation scheme - incentivising companies with heavy offshoring operations to create jobs in Flint and in turn provide these companies incentives (tax credits, development funding to create design centres, and training centres) to upskill the unemployed with job skills matching those required by these digital industries.

The winning ideas are to be presented to the board (of the Ferris Hub). They will review if the solutions provided by the business students are applicable and will assess their viability. If the board agrees to proceed, it is likely Dean and his team will be asked to help develop the plans into concrete actionable items.

Dean is open to staying in the U.S. However, he states he'd prefer to make a meaningful contribution back home in Australia.

Media contact: Ibrar Khan: 02 9385 9887 |