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Get ready for next Monday, when we release the FT’s updated global MBA ranking with expert commentary from leading writers.

Andrew Hill’s challenge

The FT’s management editor sets a weekly test of your business, strategy and management skills.

When I was in Bangalore last year, I interviewed Infosys co-founder and technology evangelist Nandan Nilekani, who led the extraordinary — and extraordinarily successful — effort to provide a unique biometric identity number, known as Aadhaar, to more than a billion Indians. I asked Mr Nilekani which challenge he would devote himself to now, if he were starting his career again, and he chose the quest to bring Indians into the formal credit system, using Aadhaar’s “societal platform” as a foundation for further reform.

For this week’s challenge, I’d like to hear which societal problem you would tackle using existing technology — and how would you do it? We’ll highlight the ideas that best combine ambition and feasibility in future issues. Send your solutions to bschool@ft.com.

In my further reading this week, two great stories about innovation: fellow columnist Anjana Ahuja’s article about “frugal science”, including the ingenious “paperfuge” for analysing blood samples, and venture capitalist Mike Moritz’s look at the “internet of bicycles”, coming to a Chinese city near you soon.

Professor’s picks

Every week a business school professor or academic recommends useful FT articles.

Scott Moeller, professor in the practice of finance, City University’s Cass Business School, suggests:

Leonardo Del Vecchio, the far-sighted dealmaker of Milan: The €50m eyewear megamerger of equals between Luxottica and Essilor, Europe’s largest cross-border deal, was planned by the founder of the Italian group over many years. This article raises issues including: How much influence should founders or senior executives play in driving M&A deals? Despite the strategic logic, is there completion risk given the combined groups’ 15% global market share?

Bayer offers $8bn R&D spend to win Trump favour for Monsanto deal: On the eve of his inauguration, one of Donald Trump’s spokesman said Bayer, the German pharmaceutical conglomerate seeking US government approval of its acquisition of Monsanto for $66 billion, had promised to invest $8 billion in R&D in the country. This appears to be an attempt by Bayer to influence the antitrust process. Should its shareholders ask why management appear to have put politics ahead of business and financial criteria in deciding where to spend $8 billion in R&D?

Lex: Ahold Delhaize — a hold defrays: For MBA students who want to dig deeper, the FT Lex column provides analysis and opinion often after news has left the front pages. Last week it reanalysed a 2015 merger of two Benelux supermarket chains. Lex noted that the market had not fully valued the synergies in the deal. Such synergies feature at the top of many M&A press releases, incentivising investors to support what otherwise may be seen as overpriced deals. But is it realistic for investors to believe management’s forecasts three to five years hence?

Ask the academics

Got a question for leading business school experts? Send it to bschool@ft.com and we will publish the best replies in future newsletters.

Jonathan Moules’ business school news

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Association of MBAs (Amba), one of the three main accreditation bodies for business schools worldwide. Institutions can spend years, and tens of thousands of dollars, obtaining accreditation from these bodies, but what does that status mean if you are choosing a place to study? Why is there not one globally recognised standard? I take a look at the accreditation market and ask whether three different bodies is not too much.

Test your knowledge

How good is your grasp of the news? Test your reading of last week’s top stories with the FirstFT quiz.

Compiled by Wai Kwen Chan

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