The Company Launch Weekend for Global Access Program GAP was held in UCLA Anderson School of Management from July 19th to July 21st.
GAP is an international field study providing a unique educational experience for fully employed MBA students. It matches each team of students with an international technology company to develop a comprehensive business strategy to enable the company to move to the next stage of their corporate development. This next stage may be to launch a new product, expand internationally, locate and secure a strategic partner, or to raise additional capital. This is the 15th year of GAP and since its beginning 2,251 MBA students have developed strategic business plans for 431 companies located in 17 different countries. The program lasts for 6 months. The fee for a company to take part in the program is $15,000.
The program has been a success and the term win-win-win-situation was used multiple times during the weekend. For one, the students who take part in the program learn the elements and characteristics of successful business plans by studying about business plan development, high-technology management and international entrepreneurship. Secondly the companies receive a comprehensive, independent assessment and evaluation of their current business plans, corporate growth strategies and market opportunities, specific recommendations to accelerate the company’s growth and they also get to be a part of a unique executive education experience.
Tekes is the main coordinator for the Finnish companies involved in GAP. Companies apply to the program through Tekes and they can also request grants. According to the effectiveness evaluation made in 2010, participating companies have been extremely satisfied with the program. They find the value created during the program significantly greater than the amount of resources put into it. Companies also find that participation has improved their competitiveness in the market.
Professor Bob Foster, the director of GAP, started the launch weekend by welcoming all the executives, partners and students with an uplifting speech. During the weekend, the teams met up with their company executives and made their first company analysis presentations as a kick start to the whole project.
2012 GAP had 53 companies from 9 different countries: Australia, Brazil, Estonia, Finland, Italy, New Zealand, Russia, Spain and USA. This year 12 Finnish companies took part in the program:
Biomedic, Corrosion Control Oy, Frosmo Oy, Mendor Oy, P2S -Scoopshoot Oy, Powerkiss Oy, Rightware Oy, Specim Oy, Surma Oy, Twid Oy, Vianova Oy, Visual Components Oy.
The Consulate General of Finland Los Angeles held a cocktail party for the Finnish companies and the students involved in their projects on a Friday night. The Bel Air Residence was filled with almost 120 excited GAP members who were enjoying the refreshments and desserts provided by the Consular. Cheerful mingling amongst the partygoers kept going until late night!