MBA 698 Practicum: Experiential New England Ocean Cluster and Student Collaboration

Maine has been a net exporter of raw seafood for many years. Maine businesses would like to increase the production of downstream shellfish and seafood products, but have been challenged by industry technology limitations and limited availability of market planning resources and logistic channel outlets. The USM School of Business deploys teams of undergraduate and graduate MBA students as ocean-based company consultants. The teams work with the New England and Iceland Ocean Cluster Houses to address seafood, aquaculture, logistics, and marine technology business gaps and needs. Working collaboratively with local and Icelandic and other Northern Atlantic entrepreneurs and business leaders, student and faculty teams analyze business potential, develop business plans, and investigate and recommend retail distribution outlets, product designs, advertising strategies, updated company images, etc. The student teams propose creative solutions to business challenges and barriers to growth. Students benefit as they work directly with seafood, tourism, logistics, and technology entrepreneurs and small businesses; area businesses gain valuable consulting and research help as they develop, launch, and promote their seafood and marine technology products.


Avenues for future growth include:

  1. Expand the audience and presentation format of the final presentation event to use the practicum to engage the community.
  2. Develop an MBA exchange program using the same model, where participants take part in an intensive course and also participate in an internship applying these skills to real-world problems.
  3. Establish a Seafood Marketing Institute at USM – a center of academic and industry excellence for seafood marketing and branding – that would build on these proven competencies.


  • New England Ocean Cluster House

  • Iceland Ocean Cluster House

  • Portland Maine waterfront businesses

  • Gulf of Maine Research Institute


Robert Heiser

Robert Heiser

School of Business