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Students at pharmacy competition.

The Annual APM Capstone Business Plan Competition: "We Either Win or We Learn"

  • Every year during the spring semester, the MCPHS School of Pharmacy hosts the Advanced Practice Management (APM) Business Plan Competition. 2019 marked the 15th year of the competition at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

    Students are asked to collaborate as an entrepreneurial team, find a niche in the crowded healthcare product and services market, and devise a business plan for a product or service to exploit the opportunity. APM Pharmacy students were divided into 38 teams and participated in the year-long project that concluded with the competition on April 10, 2019.

    “We put you in an uncomfortable environment, because that is where learning happens,” explains Joe Ferullo, BSP ’96, PharmD ’06, RPH, director of Pharmacy Practice Laboratories, associate professor, and the organizer of the competition each year. “When two or three members of your team don’t agree, then what? How do you deal with that conflict and move forward? We’re not looking for the perfect plan. We’re looking for a team effort in which you set aside your differences and reach a common goal.”

    Since the inception of the pharmaceutical business plan competition in 2003, the participants not only take with them the fundamentals of a pharmacy education, but they also learn essential career skills such as communication, leadership, and crisis management. The project is designed to spark creativity and critical thinking amongst the aspiring pharmacy students. Find a problem in healthcare, determine the audience, and logistically plan how a business would execute going to market with your medical innovation.

    The day kicked off with the MCPHS students presenting their business plan “elevator pitches” and posters highlighting their pharmaceutical products and their go-to-market strategy. Teams present their findings to 40 judges including, MCPHS faculty as well as alumni who have gone on to successful careers such as pharmacists in the Longwood Medical Area and executives of corporations like CVS Pharmacy.

    The competition day came to an end when the 38 teams, 40 judges, and countless members of the MCPHS community came together in Reed Hall to hear the results. In first place, GenMed, a team focused on closing the genetic testing gaps among hospital systems; Vitamin Me, a subscription-based web platform and boxed delivery service with an emphasis on women’s health finished in second; and Accuracy Rx, a company that invented an adapter to allow greater dosing efficacy in liquid oral medications, took third place. For the team with the best logo, InspirO2, a company focused on improving asthma outcomes through hospital staff education, came out on top.

    The event did not only end there, Paul Kiritsy BSP ’82, MS ’85, PharmD ’10, RPh, associate professor of pharmacy practice, presented a surprise award. “We believe that roughly 4,500 students have gone through this competition…the one common denominator is that those 4,500 have all gone through Joe’s door,” he said presenting Ferullo with a plaque in recognition of his 15 years of hard work.

    Joe Ferullo humbly accepted the plaque in his honor and concluded the event with a poignant thought: “In this competition, we either win, or we learn. There’s no losing in this room.”

    The winning teams walk away with trophies and prize money, but every individual walks away having participated in a learning opportunity that cannot be found in a classroom.

    Interested in learning more about pharmacy at MCPHS? Explore our School of Pharmacy.