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Harvard Business School collaborates in online innovation platform

Harvard Business School and Top Coder, Inc, a leading computer programming and software development company, have joined forces to provide an online platform for HBS MBA students to develop online businesses, according to a Jan. 23, 2012 press release published on MarketWatch.com. HBS students will be able to develop new businesses entirely online, from conception to product development to introduction to the market, the press release said.

Top Coder helped create the online environment for students in HBS' Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development, or FIELD, course, part of the required first-year curriculum for Harvard Business School MBA students. Students in this course will use the online platform to gain experience navigating professional communities, and to develop and manage all aspects of an online product and business.

"We want our students - tomorrow's business leaders - to become comfortable managing and building products in a rapidly evolving world," Alan D. MacCormack, a faculty member at HBS and part of the team responsible for the launch and design of FIELD, said in the press release.

MacCormack describes the radical changes that the Internet has brought to business and entrepreneurship, noting factors like cost savings, immediacy, and online resources have changed the structure of business operation. Top Coder and HBS hope their online platform will help HBS students stay on top of an ever-evolving business community.

Student projects are expected to begin running as early as this month, and will include a challenge in which 900 students break into teams of six to develop and introduce a "microbusiness" in a limited time frame.