Examples of Master projects 2012

SUMMARY
In a context of growing energy consumption, major society choices have to be made. Alternative energy sources have to be exploited in order to reduce CO2 emissions and to fulfill the needs of the economy. Flexibility of future grids is a key point for the integration of intermittent renewable power sources. The smartening of actual electrical networks will help to improve the management of variable and distributed renewable power production and to ensure the safety of the power system. Storage may be a part of these future networks and could provide the needed flexibility to smart grids system.

New storage technologies like batteries may play a significant role all over the electricity value chain. Being scalable and site independent, they may compete with actual pump hydro and compressed air technologies by providing services closer to wind and solar production points, at strategic places in the distribution and the transmission network or at the final consumer level.

The performed analysis successfully allowed gathering a deeper understanding of storage drivers and needs all over the electricity value chain. Literature review, experts’ interviews and economic models allow clearly identifying which of the applications will be viable until 2020 and which markets are the most promising in term of sales volumes potential and competitiveness of new storage technologies.

RESULTS

  1. Exhaustive listing of storage services and potential applications
  2. Overview of costs and performances of selected storage technologies
  3. Evaluation of needs and drivers for storage
  4. Estimates of typical storage sizes in terms of power (kW) and energy (kWh) for the different market segments
  5. Listing of constraints and barriers to the penetration of storage in the selected markets
  6. Impact of regulation and subventions and their evolution through time
  7. Estimates of storage solution revenues by the creation of economic models
  8. Estimates of market volumes and potential until 2020

SUMMARY
In the environment of fast economic development of China, the Swiss Center Shanghai (SCS) offers a platform to facilitate the entry of Swiss companies in the Chinese market. Through a membership fee scheme, this non-profit, public-private organization provides a large range of services including direct office and workshop space rental, governmental relations, expertise and accredited service partners.

Approved internship project description
Develop and implement the marketing plan of the company in Shanghai. The final goal is to promote the services offered by SCS to their present and future customers. Assessment of the situation, survey of customer’s behavior, and use of multiple marketing channels are going to be tasks performed during the internship.

Objectives of the internship

  1. Provide an overview of the key players in the industry
  2. Build up a marketing plan strategy focusing on events, brochures and online marketing
  3. Implementing the strategy during the internship and attract new members

Methodology of the thesis
Based on new trends in marketing strategies and data collection on marketing actions of the Swiss Center, this paper focuses on analyzing the information gathered to develop alternative marketing solutions. In a second step, recommendations and new marketing actions are proposed and implemented. Finally, the implemented solutions are handed over to the Swiss Center collaborators allowing a continuity of the actions undertaken.

RESULTS
Detailed research on new marketing trends and their possible application for the Swiss Center are presented. Moreover, press release and business delegations visits were identified as most efficient marketing actions performed by the organization to attract new members. In addition, key competitors’ analysis allowed having a more clear view on the core competences of each Swiss organization in Shanghai. Potential members listing as well as reaching strategy analysis opened opportunities to acquire new members for the Swiss Center. In addition 2 online surveys were conducted to assess the needs of potential and current SCS members. Finally, social media exposure, blog writing, and presentation video editing were identified as appropriated new marketing channels and implemented during the internship. As an efficiency result of these new marketing channels, 7 people contacted the Swiss Center interested by potential partnership or membership. Among them were 3 investors, 2 potential members and 2 potential partners.

SUMMARY
This thesis presents research in the field of CVC, i.e. Corporate Venture Capital, with a focus on strategic value that both corporations and start-ups can potentially capture from corporate venturing activities. This research has been motivated by the observation that an increasing number of companies launch internal corporate venturing units to support their open innovation initiatives, aiming at helping parent corporations achieve strategic objectives and financial returns. A shift towards achieving strategic value from CVC rather than focusing on financial returns differentiate the corporate venturing units from the traditional VCs and triggers the question of: “How do corporations measure the strategic value from CVC investments?”. In fact, if financial returns are easily measurable using traditional ROI, i.e. return on investment or other financial metrics, there are no obvious means to quantify the strategic advance realized through external investments. The lack of metrics makes it difficult to assess CV units’ performance, threatening the success of such programs.

The question of capturing and measuring the strategic value of strategic investments has been partially addressed by three frameworks from different sources: Academia, CVC professionals, and Business Consulting. This report provides with a benchmark of CVC best practices relying on the analysis and comparison of the three frameworks. A case study is presented, showing how best practices are implemented to achieve value creation through CVC investments

RESULTS
Companies are constantly looking for ways to increase their innovativeness as a critical factor to their success. Corporate venture capital has been identified as an effective way to leverage external ideas towards enhancing internal innovation processes. This report examines corporate venture capital from an open innovation perspective, and provides an overview of the industry and its best practices. 2011-2012 has been pointed out as the golden era of CVC, with an increase in the amounts devoted to CVC activities and a significant raise in the number of deals. The trend is confirmed by the increasing number of corporations committed to create value through CVC investments.

To “gain a window on new technology” has been identified as the principal objective from CVC, in addition to enhancing corporations’ current businesses and pursuing new growth trajectories. CVC relationship with the venture community presents conceptual and operational challenges. Duality of financial and strategic objectives and lack of metrics to quantify strategic value from CVC investment have been identified as the two major challenges. While the first one can be overcome by engaging key stakeholders within the company and clearly articulating targeted benefits, the lack of metrics has been persistent in the literature.

SUMMARY
This thesis describes an audit methodology that can be used to evaluate innovation practices inside organizations. It does not measure innovation performance directly but instead it focuses on the activities that may lead to higher performance. The audit is based on a framework with two distinct dimensions: (1) the innovation process which includes idea generation, development, diffusion, knowledge management and (2) the organizational enablers namely strategy, resources allocation, culture and climate, management system. The framework is built upon past research in new product development (NPD) and industrial manufacturing but elements were modified to address the broader definition of innovation found in other fields. The audit methodology combines a maturity model based on best-practices, in-depth interviews, and the analysis of internal documents to provide a comprehensive assessment of the situation.

Using this methodology, an innovation audit has been performed at La Coop fédérée, a large cooperative whose activities cover a broad range of products and services along the agricultural value chain.

RESULTS

  1. Analysis of the current innovation practices based on the audit framework and methodology developed.
  2. Identification of the key elements limiting/driving innovation capabilities given the specificity of the organization and its business environment.
  3. A set of recommendations to the management team to improve innovation practices within the organization

SUMMARY
Nowadays, there are plenty of academic theories, books, and innovation white papers prepared by consulting companies that suggest why, and how company should use metric system to boost their innovation productivity. Unfortunately, lots of companies got lost in so many different metrics and end up with using the wrong ones to measure their innovation. It is difficult for individual company to implement the whole theory on their business due to the lack of experience in this domain and various industrial dynamics, different organization structures and company strategies. Logitech, as the innovation leader in its domain realizes that innovation metric system should be customized to suit their special needs and required this project to assess the current innovation capability of the newly founded corporate innovation incubator-cube, and to design a proper metric system to measure the innovation activities there. This thesis studies how to combine academic literature and business practices to implement efficiently advanced innovation theories on a well-established company.

RESULTS
The outcome of this project is threefold. First, it defines the specific frameworks to conduct the whole project for focal company based on the summary of best practices and existent knowledge on related topics. Second, it applies the defined framework on both external and internal assessment of current innovation activities; and third, it proposes an applicable metric system to monitor and assess the innovation efficiency and try to help Logitech build a more sustainable innovation culture.

SUMMARY
Pressure on margins, and volatility of supply and demand, have now made the Integrated Business Planning (IBP) one of the most challenging processes to get right. The question that today’s companies may ask are how to overcome the barriers and meeting today’s challenges in order to succeed to sustainably generate profit through IBP. To provide an adequate answer to this question is the main objective of this thesis. This thesis starts with putting forward the problematic: how companies leverage IBP for sustainable profit growth. An industry best practice review on IBP’s application is provided as the theoretical base. Then, a deep discussion on the characters and critical content of IBP according to best practice is given. In the third chapter, the problematic of this thesis is in-­‐deathly analyzed. A case study of Swatch Group (SG) and Omega brand will be addressed following this analysis. Through an issue-­‐tree analysis, the biggest root-­‐cause of current issue is identified. A complete review on brand value proposition and business process are conducted then, in order to identify the possible improvements. In the end, a proposition including an IBP organizational structure, IBP decision-­‐making hierarchy, and IBP process together with software specifications, is developed.

RESULTS

  1. The most critical cause for lack of profit growth -­‐ a descychronization between the business units, has been identified.
  2. A complete review on brand value proposition and business process are done in order to identify the places to improve.
  3. A complete IBP solution is proposed to Swatch Group’s Pilot brand Omega. This proposition addresses the following aspects of Omega: organization, people’s behavior, process and technology.

SUMMARY
This master thesis project was realized during a six-month internship inside Innovation Cells, the innovation unit of Constellium AG on EPFL campus (Quartier de l’Innovation). Constellium is a world leader in high-end, semi-finished Aluminum products, for the aerospace, automotive, packaging and other selective industries. Constellium is grown out of the expertise of Alusuisse, Pechiney and Alcan. The main objective of this master thesis is to use concepts and frameworks acquired in a literature review in order to analyze case studies of companies with innovative business models in industries under transformation, and then extract insights that can be used as an inspiration for Constellium. The thesis aims to answer two research questions: first, to understand the main drivers for companies to innovate their business model (RQ1), and second, to identify what are the similarities in the implementation of a new business model (RQ2). The study is based on the analysis of six companies, using information from company websites, annual reports, personal interviews, case studies in the literature, etc. Finally, recommendations for Constellium are provided, based on the internal analysis of the company and on the insights from the six cases studied.

RESULTS
The main results obtained in this study are:

  1. Extensive review on recent business model innovation literature;
  2. Detailed analysis of six companies that adopted innovative business models and, per company, extraction of potential innovations to Constellium’s business model;
  3. Initial version of Constellium business model plotted on Osterwalder’s business model canvas;
  4. Answer to the research questions: (RQ1) external – rivalry, new technologies and buyers, internal – new technologies, change of the CEO and key resources; (RQ2) internal – key resources, key partnerships and value proposition;
  5. Other interesting findings, e.g. that is possible to deal with multiple business model in the same company;
  6. Three key and concrete recommendations for Constellium as to how to innovate its business model.

SUMMARY
This thesis aims to present how to efficiently manage projects outsourced to China over a sixth months experience in a North American IT software company. The research looks for to understand the reasons of attraction of outsourcing sector and aims to define good practices, processes, methodologies, and managerial tools in order to assist a project management team in improving and succeeding in their newly defined corporate strategy. By helping to manager certain outsourced projects in China, the thesis will establish the project manager’s profile and his role. Then, the thesis will point out key elements that need to be considered by the project manager in order to drive the outsourced project into success and to avoid potential risks.

RESULTS
The significant result emphasizes the importance of communication in outsourced projects. A project process could change a little by replacing the Human Resources factor as the fundamental element with the Communication factor. This latter covers the difference of culture, mindset, and working methods. Human resources cover the importance and the difficulty in hiring skilled people in offshore companies. Finally, a well-defined project scope is required as the third essential component to leading an outsourced project into success.