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A team from Kellogg’s Part-Time program took first place in the 2010 Biotech & Healthcare Case Competition. Pictured from left: Michael Senical, David Chameli, Varun Goyal and Guillermo Amezcua.

Biotech Winners

Big wins for Kellogg in global competition

Teams from the Part-Time and Full-Time programs take first and second place, respectively, at the 2010 Biotech & Healthcare Case Competition

By Brady Gervais

1/28/2010 - For the second year in a row, a team of students from the Kellogg School’s Part-Time Program earned top honors at the Kellogg Biotech & Healthcare Case Competition.

Part-Time students Guillermo Amezcua, David Chameli, Varun Goyal and Michael Senical on Jan. 23 bested 11 other teams from schools such as Harvard, the London Business School and Chicago Booth. The top prize included $5,000 and an opportunity to meet with the CEO and top executives from Genzyme, a Boston-based biotechnology company.

A team of Full-Time students, including Jeff Bird, Jerry Chan, Ritesh Parekh and Mike Watts, all ’10, earned the $1,500 second prize. The $500 third prize went to a team from Stanford University.

Finishing in second place was a team from the Kellogg Full-Time program. From left: Jeff Bird, Jerry Chan, Mike Watts and Ritesh Parekh, all ’10.
Photo © Nathan Mandell
This year’s competition, sponsored by Genzyme and Illinois-based Abbott Labs, challenged students to evaluate whether Genzyme should invest $50 million in Synvisc-One, a single-dose version of Synvisc, a knee pain treatment. They also had to decide whether Synvisc-One should go head-to-head in a trial with Synvisc.

“This year’s case was particularly challenging,” said Tim Calkins, a clinical professor of marketing at Kellogg and author of the case. “It was the type of issue that executives at biotech firms face all the time.”

The winning team “focused on the core issues in the case, then identified the root cause of each, assessed the merits and risks, and ultimately made a recommendation that was based on as much fact as possible supported by the appropriate level of analysis,” Amezcua said.

The real-world context proved to be a boon for the Part-Time team, Amezcua added, noting that students in the Part-Time program are accustomed to preparing and delivering recommendations to senior management as part of their jobs each day.

“Working on this case was a natural extension for us,” he said.

Judges from Genzyme and Abbott evaluated the teams on their strategic thinking, clarity, enthusiasm and analytical rigor. To prevent bias in the evaluations, the judging was blind and the teams did not reveal their business-school affiliation.

Mark Twyman, Genzyme senior vice president and general manager of Synvisc, said the top teams demonstrated a balance between providing solid analytics and showing how they would take Synvisc-One to market.

“The teams this year were outstanding,” noted Calkins. “All of the teams did strong analyses and presented strong recommendations; there wasn’t a single team that missed the mark.”

Founded in 2004, the Biotech & Healthcare Case Competition is designed to simulate the experience of working in the biotechnology field. Participation has grown since the contest’s inception; this year, 12 teams were selected from a pool of 50 applications. Teams came from schools including the Darden School of Business, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, the Harvard Business School, the London Business School and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.