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Organisations based in Northern Ireland and the USA are benefiting from valuable business strategy and market research support through a new global experiential learning initiative developed by Ulster University Business School (UUBS) in partnership with the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University (CSBSJ U) in Minnesota USA.

The initiative has seen 41 final year undergraduate marketing and business students from UUBS’s BSc Marketing degree and CSBSJU’s Global Business Leadership programme work collaboratively on a highly engaging and applied consultancy project. Delivered virtually, the project is creating vital opportunities for businesses to expand and grow internationally while students are securing meaningful work-based learning experiences and real-world business knowledge in a global context.

Based over four weeks, students are split into five groups and tasked with researching target segments, industry trends and competitor strategies, with a focus on producing directional recommendations designed to enhance the organisations competitive position in the new market.

Companies involved in the collaborative programme include Version1, a multi-property esports organisation based in Minnesota and two Northern Ireland based firms hoping to expand into the U.S. market later in the year; Bella Moon, a producer of products designed to make breastfeeding easier and more comfortable for new mothers; and Indigo Distribution, a smart home electrical design company.

Speaking about the programme, Dr Andrea Reid, Senior Lecturer and MSc Marketing Programme Director at Ulster University Business School, said,

“Increased global interconnectivity and internationalisation have resulted in greater student interest for learning opportunities outside of the UK. For the last 10 years, we have invested in establishing connections internationally to integrate these important work-based learning opportunities into the curriculum. As well as aligning with the demands of today's global economy, the educational and cultural value of this collaboration is significant with many students gaining hands-on experience, cultivating new perspectives, building networks, developing new confidence and greater cultural awareness. This will no doubt help students prepare for the global marketplace as they embark on their future professional careers.”

In addition to building invaluable academic, professional and personal experience, the cross-university collaboration has allowed students to forge new connections and friendships, with some students gathering on Zoom to meet socially.

Jordan Long, Sales & Marketing Manager at BellaMoon said the student support has brought their business one step closer to expanding into the U.S market:

“At BellaMoon, we are a small team of two and our resources are limited as we are constantly trying to drive our business forward. Detailed research, both macro and micro environmental analysis, are luxuries we don’t often get to prioritise. As we prepare to launch BellaMoon into the U.S market in August 2021, we have been able to benefit from relevant and professional research support from UUBS and CSBSJU students – bringing us one step closer to this new marketplace. Having the students dedicate their time and knowledge to this project by applying practical and theoretical learnings, strategies and frameworks have been invaluable to us. We’re certain there will be a several proposed recommendations we can action as part of our launch and feel very fortunate to have had the support of the students.”

Stephanie McMurray, Marketing Manager at Indigo Distribution, said,

“Indigo Distribution have really enjoyed teaming up with UUBS and CSBSJU. So far, the collaboration has been very insightful and beneficial, as students from NI and Minnesota have been putting together a marketing strategy, unique to the US market. Getting the views and opinions of young business students is a great asset in itself, but the US students have provided a further advantage as they have analysed how our services may perform in the international market. Many opportunities have already been identified for the company, and we have gained strong relationships with the students who have enjoyed learning more about our business and the Smart Home industry.”

For more information about the programme please contact Dr Andrea Reid at