Freudenberg cooperates with students of Mannheim Business School

Weinheim. November 14, 2011. A win-win situation arises when young talents have the opportunity to share their ideas with a company. The Freudenberg Group is well aware of that. This is the second consecutive year that Freudenberg is benefiting from stimuli provided by the students at Mannheim Business School. As part of their Master's dissertation, they drew up a global marketing strategy for a new medical technology product from Freudenberg Nonwovens. Matthias Mitzscher, one of the students involved in the project, talked about this experience.

"We were tasked with developing a marketing strategy for an innovative nonwoven", Mitzscher explained. This particular nonwoven is a product designed for applications in high-tech medical technology and comprises a scaffold carrier matrix that stimulates the growth of human cells and can accelerate wound healing, for example. Possible fields of use include orthopedics and cardiology. "Freudenberg Nonwovens has been active in wound treatment for many years now", Gerhard Schöpping, who is responsible for strategic development at the Nonwovens group and who mentors the students on their project, said. "We are constantly developing medical technology solutions further in close cooperation with customers." Mitzscher and his fellow student faced their first challenge right at the start of the project. "We had to get to grips with the technology, because no one in our group had the necessary scientific expertise", Mitzscher said.

Freudenberg backs interdisciplinary teams
When selecting the students for the project, Freudenberg set the emphasis on diversity and talent from other sectors. The project team comprised five MBA students - Yang Chen from China, Amit Hingher from India, Matthias Mitzscher and Christoph Neumann from Germany and Robert Wright from the USA. Their expertise relates to sectors such as IT consulting or business management. "A new perspective can often help to bring a project forward", Pawel Mrozik, the coordinator between Freudenberg and the Business School, explained. "It is always exciting to see the momentum and inspiration the students bring to the projects." The students could count on the support of their client. "We were in constant contact with our project mentors", Mitzscher commented. "The two months we spent working on the project were a very intensive period and amazing fun." When drafting their strategy, the students had to factor in aspects such as customer wishes, suitable materials and potential competitors. For Freudenberg, setting up an interdisciplinary team paid off. "The students' different personalities and professional backgrounds meant they could draw on a number of strategic instruments to meet the practical demands of their project," Mrozik said. Schöpping was also delighted with the results. "They more than exceeded our expectations."

At Freudenberg, ideas pass through a multi-stage process before they are implemented. The students' objective was to prepare the new nonwovens for the start of the pilot phase. They presented their findings to Freudenberg in early September after eight weeks of project work. "The feedback was very positive", Mitzscher reported. "Now we're all really curious to find out how our ideas will be implemented." Following three successful cooperation projects with Mannheim Business School, Mrozik is planning further collaboration for next year.


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