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Entrepreneurial Business Fundamentals For Scientists And Engineers

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Entrepreneurship Education

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.562.1 - 13.562.9



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Paper Authors

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Peter Adriaens University of Michigan

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Timothy Faley University f Michigan

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Entrepreneurial Business Fundamentals for Scientists and Engineers Abstract

Traditional engineering approaches to technology transfer and venture creation tend to be based on the technology push principle. These evolve from long term government support for the research, culminating in potential patents and licensure agreements. Research indicates that for every successful company there is a two order of magnitude of failed or unsuccessful entrepreneurial ventures.

Failure is often driven by the overemphasis on technology, in the absence of understanding market needs, unawareness of strategic principles that help positioning the technology-based product in the context of existing industries in this innovation space, and a fiscally-sound value proposition for investors or partners to enable the venture. Entrepreneurial market innovations need to address: • technological uncertainties (robustness, scalability, cost-effectiveness, existing solutions) • market uncertainties (value proposition, competing solutions/approaches, distribution network) • business uncertainties (startup vs. corporate, fiscal sustainability, models for value capture) The premise of “Entrepreneurial Business Fundamentals for Scientists and Engineers” is to help the students understand a business framework of science and technology with emphasis on (i) positioning technology-based ventures in the appropriate value chains, and (ii) assessment of value capture (business) models relevant to product positioning.

Technological entrepreneurs (and research managers) have two challenges: Finding the appropriate market application for currently discovered technologies and finding appropriate technologies that can create and capture value for a emerging market opportunity. This course focuses on the latter. The business fundamentals are taught in the context of identifying an emerging market opportunity. Industries, derived from the student team’s research area, are analyzed. These industries are then dissected in order to determine potential opportunities for new business or new lines of business. Once the opportunity is identified, the question of what technology may be required to enable this technology is determined. The content-driven lectures on strategy, marketing, financing and innovation are illustrated using video clips and case studies drawn from entrepreneurial and corporate examples. The hands-on experience focuses on homeworks, a team-based project in a technology space selected after a student competition, and a presentation to business developers. It is our observation that the main challenge for the students is to be able to reassess/modify their original technology-based solution to one informed by strategic, market and financial criteria.

Teaching Philosophy

Technology-based entrepreneurship, regardless of whether it takes place within a large organization or in a startup, requires a mixture of technological and business skills. Our aim in developing a joint graduate-level entrepreneurial curriculum between engineering and business is

Adriaens, P., & Faley, T. (2008, June), Entrepreneurial Business Fundamentals For Scientists And Engineers Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3946

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