Exam Feedback

 

 Overall performance

Total number of students

Mean

mark

Highest mark

Lowest

mark

101

61.45

74

37.3

 

 

Q1. Describe the key elements of the National System of Innovation of a country. Choose a country with which you are familiar. What appear to be the key barriers to the generation of innovative new businesses and what policy initiatives are used to overcome these barriers? 

No. of students who answered the question

 

Mean mark

 

Highest mark

 

Lowest mark

67

61.73

77

10

Outline Answer:A pass answer will describe how innovation in a country is distinctive and outline some measures taken to encourage innovation. 

A strong answer will described the NSI model and relate distinctive factors and policy initiatives to the model.

 

 Feedback on student exam performance: 

This was a popular question: everyone knows something about somewhere. With a question like this it is essential to define the term “national systems of innovation”, and some answers didn’t and just dived into discussing a country. The second half of the question was genrally well-covered and I learnt a lot about innovation in a wide range of countries (it was assumed that all of this information was true).

 

 

Q2. Crowdsourcing is now a widely used means to generate innovative ideas. Using an example with which you are familiar, explain how crowdsourcing has advantages over more orthodox methods of ensuring that innovative products or services meet market needs.

No. of students who answered the question

 

Mean mark

 

Highest mark

 

Lowest mark

52

61.87

76

38

Outline Answer:A pass answer will describe an example of crowdsourcing. 

A stronger answer will critically discuss the definition of crowdsourcing.

 

An excellent answer will contrast crowdsourcing to specific approaches using conventional market research (focus groups, surveys etc…).

 

Feedback on student exam performance: Again, some answers did not provide a clear definition of crowdsourcing or, worse, didn’t seem to be clear in their following answer what the term means. Identifying that it is a subset of Open Innovation is important. Some answer overlooked the need to say anything about the conventional methods of market input. The strongest answers included good illustrative examples and developed a critique of whether in their example it is really an outsourcing of innovation or just a marketing ruse.

 

 

Q3. In March it was reported that seventeen-year-old Nick D’Aloisio’s  had sold his free Summly app for iphones  that  summarises news stories from popular media companies to Yahoo for $30M after spending two years developing it through two rounds of funding.  

    1. What might have been the business model that D’Aloisio pitched to potential   investors to raise funding for the development of his start-up company (50 marks)?

 

    1. What might be the business model justifying Yahoo’s purchase of the company (50 marks)?

No. of students who answered the question

 

Mean mark

 

Highest mark

 

Lowest mark

19

63.21

77

40

Outline Answer:A pass answer will describe the development of Summly and  (1st part) identify that being taken over at some point would probably have been a core element of the model and (2nd part) that Yahoo were buying the resources (people/technology) of Summly  rather than the app itself to build into their own products. 

An excellent answer would critically discuss the problems of monetising apps, the effect of bringing in external investors on the business model and the difficulty for Yahoo in valuing the assets they are buying, but it is a ticket in raffle ($30M is a lot for the start-up but less significant for Yahoo).

 

Feedback on student exam performance: The main factor separating the strong answers from the weak answers was not the amount people could remember about the case, although remembering something did help; rather, it was about how start-up businesses are not always invested in or bought out because of their apparent business model.  

 

 

 

 

Q4. Describe the four suggested “steps” for new product development and the types of uncertainty that each step attempts to reduce.

No. of students who answered the question

 

Mean mark

 

Highest mark

 

Lowest mark

27

62.33

75

38

Outline Answer:A superior answer would describe the following four steps: 

  1. Generate market study & competitor analysis to reduce market uncertainty. This would include asking “what is the ‘market’ for this product/technology? i.e. the users to whom the product is useful and for what purpose;

 

  1. Produce a well-defined product/service to reduce product-related uncertainty. This would include: technology verification (e.g. beta testing); verification of value to market (e.g. that customers will pay); and value from the role suppliers, customers & collaborators play in influencing the value capture from commercialisation of a technology;

 

  1. Establish selling & cash flow strategy to reduce channel to market uncertainty. This would include defining the “architecture of revenues“ to be derived from market (e.g. how much should be charged; how will customers/users pay; how will value that is created be apportioned among customers, firm, and suppliers – e.g. outright sale, renting, charging by transaction, advertising & subscription models, licensing, giving away product & selling after-sale support & services?

 

  1. Clarify capability, resource & skill needs to reduce management team uncertainty. This step would qualify the gaps in conversion from concept to market product/service; the needs in moving the new venture into market and cover issues related to general management, sales, accounting & finance and legal.
Feedback on student exam performance:

 

Q5. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the “open innovation” model. You may want to refer to one of the examples used in class, such as Proctor and Gamble.

No. of students who answered the question

 

Mean mark

 

Highest mark

 

Lowest mark

85

59.87

75

35

Outline Answer:A superior answer would first describe the advantages of open innovation, which include: mobilising resources inside & outside the enterprise; using collaborative arrangements that allows firms to combine individual resources/capabilities to produce a coherent, customer-facing solution that no one firm can provide; leverage others’ (even competitors) innovation assets, IP, products, people, supply chains. A superior answer would identify the following disadvantages: exposing your intellectual property to other firms; lack of clarity on who owns future innovations from open innovation; determining who will manage and lead a collaboration; not developing capabilities for future competitiveness; de-motivating internal R&D staff; high search costs to find new ideas and engage in collaborations; and challenge of translating other’s ideas to fit the firm’s product development process. A superior answer would suggest that the P&G model, of using new product “prospectors” and having targets for external products has worked well in delivering growth returns that could not be achieved by sole reliance on internal new product development. 
Feedback on student exam performance:

 

Q6. Making reference to an organisation that you are familiar with, consider whether recession inhibits or encourages the formation of innovative businesses.

No. of students who answered the question

 

Mean mark

 

Highest mark

 

Lowest mark

53

62.15

78

8

Outline Answer:A pass answer should be able to identify that recession limits markets and may create barriers to raising funding. 

A stronger answer will identify that the retrenchment/withdrawal of existing firms may create niche opportunities and redundancies create people looking to start their own firms.

 

An excellent answer will use a practical example to discuss how these influences are complex and contingent.

 

Feedback on student exam performance: I know that these issues came up in a range of group projects, so most people could have used their report organisation to discuss how the recent recession impacted on the business. Could have, but generally didn’t. I raised the issue specifically after the presentation to the class by the group whose report was on Earthy foods and there were at least a couple of good answers that used Earthy as their example. Bringing this issue up was an attempt to get everyone to think about these issues and not just a desperate filling of time.