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Bringing Innovation to Light
Bringing Innovation to Light

This winter the Department of Engineering & Technology Management (ETM), in association with the office of Innovation & Intellectual Property (IIP) at Portland State University, will offer a unique course to graduate students with an entrepreneurial spirit interested in providing a path to utilization for some of the most exciting technologies under development here at PSU. New Venture Management is a course that provides PSU graduate students the opportunity to explore actual emerging technologies that are likely to impact or create technology-based industries in the near future while gaining critical experience in identifying, analyzing, acquiring, implementing, and commercializing leading-edge technologies into new products or services. 

Along with working with active PSU technologies that have the potential for commercialization, students in the New Venture Management course will have access to the technology management education resources of the National Science Foundation, the expertise of PSU scientists, engineers, and their teams, entrepreneurs with experience in high tech startups, and intellectual property specialists.

“This is hands on learning,” said Dr. Antonie Jetter, Assistant Professor in Engineering and Technology Management and the New Venture Management course instructor. “And it’s open to graduate students from all across campus. It’s wonderful if people come to the class with some understanding of entrepreneurship, but if they don’t have that, great. We’re looking for engineering and computer science students, MBAs and grad students in the hard sciences. They’re all equally welcome, because a good startup team needs people with a variety of skills and strengths.”

In the past, New Venture Management teams have worked with technologies developed by renowned organic chemist, Dr. Robert Strongin and his team, the Strongin Group, that may lead to early-stage detection of ovarian cancer, an achievement that would save thousands of lives a year. Teams have also worked on a technology developed by NASA scientist Dr. Mark Weislogel that will help NASA engineers design the fluids systems that keep astronauts alive aboard the International Space Station. 

Recently, a team’s work with a bionanotechnology developed by chemist Dr. Andrea Goforth led to the formation of a biotech startup dedicated to producing x-ray opaque surgical sponges that image several times brighter than others on the market and could reduce the risk of dangerous and costly oversights in operating rooms.

“The emphasis of the course is on the value of the technology a team is working with,” Jetter said. “The course will also focus on the different venues for pushing technologies to market or making them available through other means.”

Ryan Jenson, a doctoral student and member of Weislogel’s team had this to say of working with the New Venture Management course: “I found the experience to be very beneficial. Working with the team brought a variety of perspectives and added a non-technical component that I think every technology should have. The students set up meetings and received feedback from companies and experts in the fluid dynamics field including HP, Astrium, Xerox and others.”

While teams in the past have developed business plans for the technologies they’ve worked with, Jetter stresses that a business plan is not the only model for commercialization students in the class will learn about. Students will have the opportunity to learn the processes involved in licensing technologies to companies, open sourcing a technology to make it available to the public, or using a technology as a research or educational tool.

Joe Janda, Director of IIP, recently said of the New Venture Management course: “PSU business and engineering students have so much to contribute to our growing entrepreneurial culture in Portland. The ETM class in particular has been a great asset for us in terms of vetting the possibilities of technologies. IIP consists of two licensing staff working on dozens of projects—having a class of smart, energetic students focus on one project for the duration of a term is amazing for us.”

“Learning the techniques of assessing a technology’s impact, value, and potential for commercialization is what this course is all about,” says Jetter. “Teams in the course will work to see that these technologies have the greatest impact on the greatest number of people. I think this is an incredible opportunity.”

When you think of technology, it’s easy to focus on the machines, pharmaceuticals, tools and codes that are so intertwined with our daily lives. But technology in itself does not lead to a better, more sustainable, and healthier society. It takes the ingenuity, creativity, and dedication of entrepreneurs to take technology from lab to application, find solutions to financing challenges, and pursue the kind of feasible business models that lead to success. If you are interested in being part of this process, the New Venture Management course is for you.

Authored by Shaun McGillis
Posted November 27, 2012