Emerging Markets Conference 2020: A Recap of Events

By: Janice Endresen
graphic image of text: 10 Years, Emerging Markets Institute, Building Bridges and Encouraging Dialogue

By Mihika Badjate ’23 (A&S), Mumuksha Khicha, and Vritika Patni ’23 (A&S)

Cornell’s Emerging Markets Institute (EMI) at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business is a transnational think-tank that was launched in 2010, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, to broaden global leadership horizons in business research and talent development. Since 2010, EMI has continued to encourage dialogue and build bridges among EMI fellows, Cornell alumni, and stakeholders through social media, virtual teaching, and online activities.

The last decade has been transformational for emerging markets: Their economies have grown, poverty levels have gone down, and, in some cases, extreme poverty has been eradicated. On the business side, companies from emerging markets—mainly from China and Korea but also from India, Mexico and Brazil—have become major global players. On the innovation front, emerging markets have increased patent applications and investments in research and development. Last year, along with the rest of the world, emerging economies faced the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 Emerging Markets Institute conference, held virtually on November 6, provided an opportunity to explore not only how emerging markets are coping with the Covid-19 crisis but also, hopefully, how they might emerge stronger to shape the global future.

EMI’s annual conference is the institute’s flagship event. Every year, our team works extremely hard to bring together academics, business and opinion leaders, and students to further discussions around the future of the emerging market economies. This year’s conference was particularly important because we celebrated EMI’s 10th anniversary (hence the theme, 10 Years that Changed Emerging Markets). We were able to formally discuss EMI’s work over the past decade and how the institute can continue to excel in its goals of encouraging education and research, connecting cultures, and fostering leadership.

This was also the first year that EMI held its conference on an entirely virtual platform, which required an incredible amount of dedication and coordination from our EMI team, faculty, fellows, and speakers. We are very grateful to all of them. All in all, nearly 400 attendees from 29 countries tuned into the event! This blog piece will recap the key components of this year’s conference.

Conference at a glance

  • 2020 Emerging Market Multinationals Report: Lourdes Casanova, senior lecturer and Gail and Rob Cañizares Director of the Emerging Markets Institute and Anne Miroux, EMI faculty fellow, launched the 2020 Emerging Market Multinationals Report: 10 Years that Changed Emerging Markets, which they co-authored. This year, the report looks back at the past decade and reviews some of the corporate characteristics of emerging market multinationals and how they evolved over time. The report explores some of the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis for emerging markets and the global economy.
  • EMI’s Fourth Annual Case Competition Five teams selected as finalists presented at the conference, representing the University of Technology, Sydney; Indian Institute of Management Bangalore; Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad; Cornell SC Johnson College of Business; and Universidad de los Andes.
  • Cornell EMI Pitch Competition: Emerge Your Startup! EMI launched its inaugural pitch competition to give international recognition to startups with presence in emerging markets. In the final round of the competition, ten rising startups from emerging markets presented to international investors and experts at EMI’s conference.
  • 10 years of EMI: Reflecting Back, Moving Forward: EMI’s founding directors and early alumni supporters reflected back on the institute’s first ten years. They also discussed the role the institute can continue to play in business education at Cornell and in the development of emerging markets in the decade to come by encouraging education and research, connecting cultures, and fostering leadership in emerging economies.
  • China, Mexico, Brazil and the New Development Bank: Our panel of experts shed light on many pressing questions facing emerging economies today, including: How have China, Latin American and BRICS nations uniquely shaped emerging markets? To what extent has the pandemic impacted their potential growth at the cusp of the decade, and how long is the path to recovery? How can multilaterals old and new, like the New Development Bank, be part of the solution in this crisis?
  • The Day After: View from Emerging Markets and beyond: Emerging markets are uniquely impacted by global crises. This year, emerging markets struggled through a global financial crisis and a pandemic—the long-term effects of the latter are yet to be seen. However, this decade has also been one of tremendous milestones and growth, with some countries “emerging” altogether to become developed economies. Our panelists discussed the past and future of emerging economies: the good and the bad, the struggles and the hopes of some of the most diverse and dynamic nations in the world.

Hosting the conference virtually: A behind-the-scenes perspective

Zoom screen shot of EMI team members (16 people)
The EMI team worked hard behind the scenes to organize the institute’s first fully virtual conference.

Faced with the challenges of hosting EMI’s conference on an entirely virtual platform for the first time, EMI team members persevered through the technical and logistical difficulties, once again proving their resilience and making the event a success.

The bulk of the behind-the-scenes work took place via weekly conference committee meetings, during which the team was further broken down into subcommittees to take on key tasks. These included handling software and registration concerns, managing the pitch and case competitions, coordinating speaker schedules across time zones, designing and circulating the brochure, sending out formal calendar invites to all speakers, marketing the event via newsletters across Cornell’s campus, and advertising the various panels on our social media accounts. Throughout the two days when the event took place, our technical team was always on call and available in a “green room” to help speakers test their audio and video before moving to the main webinar.

As a team, we found ways to get creative and make the most of the virtual platform to create an event that was still interactive and informative for our audience members. Prior to the conference itself, we held a book launch for Innovation from Emerging Markets: From Copycats to Leaders (Cambridge University Press, March 2021), edited by Lourdes Casanova, Anne Miroux, and Fernanda Cahen, Centro Universitario FEI, Brazil. The book highlights research conducted by the Emerging Multinational Research Network. We also held an ideation workshop, where participants used a signature technique, via Zoom breakout rooms, to brainstorm a solution to a pressing challenge in emerging market economies.

Highlighting the main events of the conference

Casanova and Miroux launched the 2020 Emerging Market Multinationals Report at EMI’s 2020 conference. Published annually beginning in 2016, the report aims at contributing to a better understanding of firms from emerging markets and their home economies. The 2020 report looks back at the past decade and reviews some of the corporate characteristics of emerging market multinationals and how they evolved over time. It also explores some of the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis for emerging markets and the global economy.

image showing headshots of all the panelists
Panelists pictured here discussed the 2020 Emerging Market Multinationals Report, co-authored by Lourdes Casanova and Anne Miroux.

EMI’s annual case competition boosts collaboration among universities and strengthens Johnson’s ties with other academic institutions. Moreover, it speaks to EMI’s focus on international and inter-institutional collaboration. The competition focuses on identifying and answering questions that businesses and leaders face in emerging markets. The growing role of emerging multinationals in the business world continues to evolve and this case competition seeks to challenge participants to think about how to navigate this ever-changing context. The 2020 EMI Case Competition included 160 participants on 30 teams hailing from 17 business schools at universities in nine countries, including India, Australia, Nigeria, Mexico, Colombia, Bangladesh, South Korea, Canada, and the U.S.

Slides with photos of each of the winning teams that participated in the EMI case competition, along with screen shots of some participants presenting at the conference.
EMI 2020 Case Competition finalists presented their work at the conference.

The 2020 case dealt with issues that emerging market companies are facing in the pharmaceutical industry due to the pandemic, especially given the increased reliance on a globally interconnected supply chain. Teams were judged on the clarity and thoroughness of their solution, the creativity and innovativeness of their ideas, and the soundness of their reasoning. Again, we want to thank everyone who participated, and want to congratulate our winners: Team Famous Five in first place (representing the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, India); Team Titan in second place (representing the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, India); and Team VUCA in third place (representing the Universidad de los Andes, Colombia).

 At its 2020 conference, EMI also launched its inaugural Cornell EMI Pitch Competition: Emerge Your Startup!, created to give international recognition to startups with a presence in emerging markets. The competition was narrowed down to ten finalists, representing ten universities and nine countries worldwide, who presented at the conference and were judged by a panel of international investors and experts. The ten startups competing as finalists were: KODEXO (Yonsei University, South Korea); Baduk (Getúlio Vargas Foundation, Brazil); Tissue Labs (University of Sao Paulo, Brazil); Kritsnam Technologies (IIT Kanpur, India); Tradertent (Lagos Business School, Nigeria); Easy Trademarks (Cornell University); Gamegram Online (Universidad de San Andrés, Argentina); Human Leap (Universidad de los Andes, Columbia); Open Tabs (IE University, Spain); and SaveFruit (Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico).

screen shot of EMI Pitch Competition judges (left to right) Rob Cañizares ‘71, MBA ‘74, former president, MSA International, Ricardo Mendoza, CEO of SaveFruit, and Diana Neves, MBA '20, EMI Fellow
EMI Pitch Competition judges (from top left) Rob Cañizares ‘71, MBA ‘74, former president, MSA International, Ricardo Mendoza, CEO of SaveFruit, and Diana Neves, MBA ’20, EMI Fellow

We want to thank everyone who participated and helped to make the first-ever EMI pitch competition a success. Congratulations once again to Savefruit, led by students at Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico, for winning first place!

Concluding thoughts

Emerging markets are indeed at the forefront of the future: They represent the fastest-growing economies in the world and their young, talented workforces are ready to take on the challenges of the future. Yet emerging markets have also been uniquely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on trade, globalization, and the health of their own populations. It is so important to continue to build bridges and encourage dialogue surrounding emerging economies to ensure that, despite the many challenges these countries face, the future will be better and brighter. And who better to start the dialogue than students and faculty from emerging economies across the world, each with their own expertise and perspective?

We are extremely grateful for everyone who contributed to the conference’s success: all of our staff and fellows who put in tireless hours to figure out the logistics of each panel, our speakers for fostering excellent academic discussion, and all audience members for their support of EMI. We sincerely hope you will join us at next year’s EMI conference and add your point of view to the conversation.


Here’s what our conference attendees, organizers, and presenters had to say about their experiences at 2020 Emerging Markets Institute conference:

“The sessions organized at the EMI annual conference were really insightful! I especially loved the session on how China, Latin America, and BRICS nations have uniquely shaped emerging markets, and how they are coping with the effects of the pandemic.” —Aditya Pandey, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, EMI 2020 Case Competition participant

“The 2020 EMI conference was an opportunity to listen to some great leaders of great institutions from emerging countries share their thoughts on an extremely odd time that will be affecting the whole world for a long time yet. It was important for feeding decision makers’ information anywhere.” —Daniel Dos Anjos, EMI team member

“The exchange of ideas at the international level was truly enriching. It was almost surreal to make a presentation to industry experts and academicians around the world.” —Anirudh, Agarwal, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, EMI 2020 Case Competition participant

“[The] Pitch competition in video format was a great idea and really showcased differentiation among companies presenting.” — conference attendee

About the authors

photo of Mihika Badjate

Mihika Badjate, Cornell A&S ’23

Mihika Badjate is a research assistant at the Emerging Markets Institute and a sophomore studying economics in Cornell University’s College of Arts and Sciences. In addition to emerging markets, her interests include reading, hiking, traveling, and learning new languages.


photo of Mumuksha Kicha

Mumuksha Khicha, EMI project manager

Mumuksha Khicha hails from Jaipur, India, where she completed her master’s in psychology cum laude and has been involved with various mental health campaigns. As a project manager at the Emerging Markets Institute, she is working to augment EMI’s social media presence, actively connecting with industry leaders and Cornell alumni to broaden EMI’s global network, and coordinating events. On the personal front, she is an ardent follower of Jainism whose interests include cooking vegetarian dishes, singing, and upping her board-game skills.

photo of Vritika Patni

Vritika Patni, Cornell A&S ’23 

Vritika Patni is a sophomore studying economics and statistics in Cornell University’s College of Arts and Sciences. She interned with the Emerging Markets Institute in summer 2020 and has continued her involvement as a program coordinator and research assistant. Her interests include research, finance, and outreach.