First place in Fujifilm Future Challenge
Albert Arutiunian, second-year HSE Master’s student, chose Tilburg University as a place to study abroad in autumn 2016. There, he joined the Tilburg University team, and here is his story.
Fujifilm operates the Open Innovation Hub in Tilburg (Netherlands), which has been up and running for many years. The Fujifilm Future Challenge 2016 was initiated by the Open Innovation Hub. The purpose of this competition is to develop innovative products based on core technologies from Fujifilm. The objective was quite broad, and completely different from what one might see at a case competition in Moscow.
In the latter cases, you have a specific problem that you must break down into its respective components, and then delegate tasks to come up with a solution.
In order to correct a gap in technical knowledge, the company gave us an opportunity to communicate with their representatives on a regular basis.
There were teams from Tilburg University, Eindhoven University of Technology and Avans University of Applied Sciences. Our team was put together by Dr. James Small after screening CVs and conducting brief interviews. I joined a team, comprised of students from Master’s programmes in Strategic Management, Marketing Analytics and Information Management. Our team was quite diverse in terms of expertise and culture (my teammates were from the Netherlands, Greece and China), so we got to know a lot about each other and foreign cultures.
From September until December, we met several times a week. Up until mid-November, we didn’t really develop anything new. We discussed many different types of industries, and proposed over 50 possible products. However, almost all of them were rejected by Fujifilm’s managers, as many of these ideas were already on the market, not innovative enough, or too complicated/expensive to produce. When we ran out of ideas, we decided to send our final idea, which was actually a sort of a joke - to develop a tattoo printer (printing equipment counts for a significant part of the company`s business).
Surprisingly, the company liked the idea. However, it turned out to be too expensive and complicated to produce. So, we started to research the tattoo market and learnt about negative skin reactions to the contaminants found in tattoo inks. At the end of the day, we proposed that Fujifilm develop and sell high-purity tattoo inks with enhanced removability features.
In mid-December, we presented this idea to the jury (representatives of different industries) and won the competition. In our pitch, I tried to apply all of the knowledge presented in our Venture Capital class by Ivan Rodionov. As a result, we were able to highlight the problem that this product can solve, its size and potential market, as well as elaborate on the solution in simple manner. Furthermore, we presented the project’s financial indicators.
We will have to soon present the idea to Fujifilm’s management in Barcelona. There, we will find out whether they like our idea. It will probably take a year to put it into action.