Canberra students think global for local businesses

Posted 24 Nov 2017

Story by CBR Canberra

We all agree how impressive it is that Canberra is a top 20 student cities in the world. But what does this mean for the city?

Many small to medium Canberra businesses aspire to break into the global market—a significant leap for any business. Finding the money, time, energy and resources to conduct research to underpin an international business plan can easily fall in to the ‘I’ll do it later’ basket.

That’s where our students come in.

Thanks to the Australian National University’s (ANU) International Business Plan (IBP) Competition, local Canberra companies can develop their global business plan by tapping in to the skills and genius of ANU business and marketing students.

Now in its seventh year, the IBP Competition employs student-led teams as consultants for small to medium businesses across Canberra and NSW who are keen to build their global presence.

Over a 12-week semester, each team conducts an analysis of their client’s business structure, products and internal and external environments, to develop a tailored and actionable international business plan.

Local Canberra innovators SponServe, who provide inventory and sponsorship management software to sporting teams, signed up for the 2017 program in line with their ambitions of establishing new export markets around the world.

SponServe Managing Director, Mark Thompson, says the students have delivered some ambitious and valuable insights, “identifying key factors in selling to new markets that we otherwise wouldn’t have had the time to consider,” says Mark.

As well as valuable business recommendations, Mark says the competition has highlighted the opportunity available to SponServe, just through having the ANU on their doorstep.

“There are some extremely smart people in this city, and we are excited to now be offering an internship to one student from our group, who will help us with the execution of the business plan. Without the competition, this wouldn’t have happened,” says Mark.

Angus Cho, a member of SponServe’s student team, says this kind of relationship with industry is critical in getting students ready for the future.

“I was able to experience the realities of business consultancy with a real-world client, as well as the challenges involved. Now, I feel as though I am much more prepared for entering the workforce,” says Angus.

Mark encourages other small Canberra businesses to take advantage of the IPB Competition and leverage the expertise of students.

“I would definitely recommend others take part. The positivity shown by the students has breathed a confidence into the business around our export plans, which have led us to taking the plunge into the US market,” says Mark.

“The students have gained some industry experience and had the opportunity to apply their academic knowledge to a real-life strategy. For us as a business, we’ve been able to tap in to their creativity and serious smarts. It’s a win-win.”

For more information on ANU’s IBP Competition, you can visit the website.

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