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Lerner MBA Students Tapped to Solve Science Department’s Marketing Puzzle

University of Delaware’s Lerner College of Business and Economics reported last week on the results of an internal consultation that its MBA students were invited to provide to the university’s Department of Biological Sciences.

The Biological Sciences department was seeking a way to find the break-even point for a scientific core focusing on MicroCT and MRI technologies that provide real-time and minimally invasive information about brain functioning. These cores aim to enhance learning and attract research talent by providing students, faculty, and community members with access to state-of-the-art equipment, with which there are clearly some associated expenses. Department chair Randall Duncan put it as follows: “We’ve been scientists. We don’t know anything about business or else we would be business people.”

A select group of Lerner’s MBA students were invited to interview for a spot on a four-person consulting team that would develop a strategic and marketing plan to keep the department from losing money on this core. Through survey research methods, the team gathered information about usage patterns and user funding and developed a new incremental pricing system with discounts for frequent users and special off-hour pricing that would provide a return on the department’s investment. The MBA student consultants also offered guidance on ways to enhance awareness of the core on campus and in the community by creating a more user-friendly website and encouraging faculty and department chairs to distribute business cards to help students and researchers locate the site.

The team’s recommendations were accepted by the Department of Biological Sciences and will be presented to the Office of the Vice Provost later this summer. While consulting projects with real clients are often built into MBA course offerings, these MBA students were in the right place at the right time to take advantage of this unique additional opportunity and make a meaningful contribution to another UD department.

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