Second Place Finish for Johnson Team at Ross Renewable Energy Case Competition

by Nick Peterson, MBA’15 (1/29/14)
Nick Peterson, MBA’15

A solution focusing on the triple-bottom line results in success for the Johnson team.

Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management team earned another podium finish at the Ross Renewable Energy Case Competition (RECC) in December. The competition, which included teams from top business schools from around the world, such as Yale, Duke, MIT, and Michigan, focused on solar water pumps in developing nations.

The Ross Renewable Energy Case Competition is an annual case competition hosted by Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Previous sponsors of the event have included DTE Energy, Duke Energy, and Acciona Energy, however this year the event was sponsored by SunEdison. Only one team from each school was allowed to compete.  Each team received a case written by the sponsor focused on a challenge facing the renewable energy industry. Teams were given one week to address the challenge and submit presentations. The top 16 teams were selected based on the slides submitted and were invited to present their solutions to a panel of judges in Ann Arbor, MI.

On the day of the competition, the 16 teams were divided into groups of 4. Each team had an opportunity to present and the top team from each group was selected for the final round. The presentations for both rounds were 20 minutes followed by 10 minutes for a question and answer session. This year’s event saw the Yale School of Management team taking first place and the Johnson team taking second.

RECC 2013-2014

The topic of the competition this year was solar water pumps in developing nations. Teams focused on first quantifying the market opportunities and then developing a go-to-market strategy for solar water pumps. Quickly developing an understanding of the developing nations that the case focused on was crucial for creating a marketing strategy. “The diversity of the team was a factor for our success” stated Johnson team member Micah Fuchs, MBA ‘14. Indeed it was the variety of backgrounds within the team that allowed them to adapt the knowledge they already had of renewables to the new technology and market focus.

The solution that the Johnson team created involved focusing on base-of-the-pyramid demographics that can increase buying power through the use of cooperatives. The result of the strategy was a benefit to the triple bottom line (people, planet, and profit).

The Johnson team consisted of members of the Johnson Energy Club, as well as one student from chemical engineering. Hanson Boyd (MBA ’14) was the returning champion from last year’s team, and held the responsibility of team captain. Other team members included Mark Engstrom (MBA ’14), Micah Fuchs (MBA ’14), Maciej Lukawski (PhD ’16), and Nick Peterson (MBA ’15). The team was supported by Johnson’s Title Town program as well as the Johnson Energy Club.