Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 5 sessions / week, 3 hours / session


No prerequisites for this course.

Study Tour Purpose and Focus

Innovation Islands: How New Zealand Became a Global Player in the Race to Innovate

In March 2015, two members of our study tour team embarked on an adventure across Latin America as part of an MIT Sloan Study Tour. One of the experiences in particular stood out and that was when the study tour visited a Peruvian company called "Aje Group." Aje is one of the largest cola producers in the World, and it was absolutely fascinating to hear about how the company defied all expectations to build a global brand from a small isolated country.

After hearing this story, our study tour leader realized that there are many companies like this in his home country of New Zealand. Despite being a geographically remote series of islands, New Zealand's unique culture inspires people to follow a path of entrepreneurship, and these entrepreneurs are able to spot global opportunities and innovate to successfully pursue them.

New Zealand as a Center of Innovation

Despite a population of just 4.5M, New Zealand is consistently ranked by Forbes as one of the top three places to do business. How has this nation progressed from trading primarily in commodities to being a global leader in business? Our planning team has prepared an extended study of New Zealand's innovation ecosystem to find the answer to this very question during a 5-week seminar followed by a two-week journey of New Zealand's most significant cities (Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown). We will focus on the country's leading business innovators across various industry sectors, highlighting their subsequent impacts on politics and culture, with a strong focus on technology's disruptive forces.

MIT's Strong New Zealand Ties Offer Opportunities to Interact with Real Leaders and Innovators Across the Country

We are leveraging many pre-existing relationships with New Zealand:

  • MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP): MIT is the acknowledged global leader in innovation, and the Institute has codified that knowledge through REAP—a program in which countries or regions enroll for advisement in improving their entrepreneurial ecosystem. New Zealand was a partner country, meaning there are both numerous faculty here at MIT with expertise in New Zealand's innovation ecosystem, as well as an extended network within New Zealand of former REAP participants.
  • MIT Sloan Alumni: For nearly 5 years New Zealand's Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has sponsored 10 top entrepreneurs to participate in MIT Sloan's Executive Education Entrepreneurship Development program. Examples of this include Mario Wynands, the Managing Director of New Zealand's largest and most awarded gaming company PikPok, and Jos Ruffell, serial entrepreneur and founder one of the world's most innovative breweries, Garage Project. The alumni from this program are leading some of NZ's most innovative companies.
  • MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI): MISTI matches MIT students with tailored internships with leading companies, research institutes and universities around the world, and facilitates international faculty collaborations and partnerships. In 2014 MISTI launched its MIT-Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) pilot program, and the planning team has coordinated with MISTI to offer our participating companies the opportunity to further strengthen their ties with MIT by having first access to the MISTI ANZ pilot program.

These existing networks have allowed us to craft a well-integrated in-class and in-country experience. As we travel throughout New Zealand our class will serve as Innovation Diplomats, deepening these relationships on behalf of MIT.

Ultimate Goals of the Planning Team

The planning team envisions a life-changing experience for all participants. As innovation accelerates and blurs geographic lines, it is increasingly imperative that every Sloanie is competent and ready to transact business on the global level through an enriched understanding of distinctly different business cultures.

Each class is designed with a specific purpose in mind and the key learning objectives for each can be found in detail on the following sections.