A Griffith University team, made up of five MBA students, will contest the finals of the inaugural G20 Global Business Challenge in November.

The group will line up against five other teams representing Australia, Canada, Poland, Great Britain and the United States for the final stages of the prestigious $100,000 competition.

Griffith’s team is made up of five Gold Coast-based MBA students, Andrew Zaniewski, Prasanna Sivasubramaniam Shanmuganathan, Joshua Salkeld, Nathan Pugliese and Matthew Kelly.

The world-first competition, which will be linked to the G20 summit next month and in the future, brought together teams of graduate students, industry leaders and researchers. Teams were challenged to develop innovative solutions to the problem of water scarcity around the world.

Forty entries from 18 countries were submitted with the Griffith team pitted against university teams representing Denmark, India, Netherlands, Indonesia, US and Melbourne in its group.

“The competition involved top ranking business schools from around the world,” Dr Nick Barter, Director Griffith MBA, said. “This is a fantastic achievement for our students and an endorsement of our university and our business school’s focus.”

Perfect example

The G20 Global Business Challenge is designed around sustainable water use. The Griffith team collaborated with Brisbane-based Trevor Powell of Impacts Solar to come up with an innovative business plan to supply potable water in Nauru and Chennai.

“We felt the context of Nauru offered a perfect example for how an Australian community could get involved from a business perspective and actually make a difference,” Nathan said.

GPrasanna (left) brought firsthand knowledge to the project, having grown up in Chennai. “If this technology works, and we think it will, it’s going to have a huge impact on the lives of Chennai residents. It could potentially address two of the city’s greatest issues, electricity and water.”

Matthew, who developed the financial model for the project, is excited about its potential reach. “As well as the two cities we have focused on, we are also looking at a scalable model that would allow us to apply it broadly to a range of communities.”G

Andrew (left) said the Global Business Challenge had presented the team with an extraordinary opportunity “to take what we have learned through the MBA and apply it to situations where lives and communities could benefit enormously”.

“I’m honored to be representing Griffith and showcasing the MBA’s foundations of sustainable development with our business model,” Joshua said, adding he was looking forward to the finals from November 3-6.

The finals will culminate with the Gala Awards Dinner at the QUT 360 Room where the winning team will be announced.

The team, named Impacts, was coached by head of Griffith’s Department of Marketing, Professor Evan Douglas, and members struck up an exciting rapport with inventor Trevor Powell who developed the solar thermal technology at the heart of their business plan. Impacts’ Perflection® brand solar thermal collector generates the heat needed for water desalination and renewable power generation.

“The university association is a spectacular fit,” Mr Powell said. “The project introduced us to some wonderful people from the academic community and gave us the opportunity to see how our technology could be used in a business case quite different to its other uses.”

In the finals, Impacts will be up against AFK Studios (University of California, Berkeley; University of Pennsylvania; University of Queensland); Nasa (University of Queensland); Team Memorial (Memorial University of Newfoundland); BioRanger (Warsaw School of Economics; Polish Japanese Institute of Information Technology; Warsaw University of Life Sciences); Aquor (University of Nottingham).