This grant supports the creation of the Social Innovation Design Lab at the University of Southern California, a semester-long course in which interdisciplinary student teams develop solutions to challenges faced by impoverished residents of the San Joaquin Valley (a community located four hours north of campus). The prosperity of USC’s campus stands in stark contrast to the San Joaquin Valley’s high pollution levels, poor access to nutritive foods, and lack of basic infrastructure. The course will use the “design thinking” process, a systematic approach to problem solving that begins with consumer empathy and iterates toward better solutions. Students will engage in community immersion, need finding, business analysis, prototyping, and testing solutions designed to fit community needs. The goal of the course is to move the most promising of students’ social innovations from the idea stage, to prototype, to market.
University of California, San Diego, 2012 - $36,500
While UC San Diego has a strong and growing undergraduate engineering program, a missing component is the formation of E-Teams. There is currently no means for students to earn academic credit for their commercially directed entrepreneurship efforts; no specific courses are dedicated to the process.
This grant will help integrate significant E-Team components into UCSD’s existing curriculum and resources. This will be done through the development of a new course, Product Design and Entrepreneurship, in which E-Teams will propose design solutions and perform preliminary business and engineering analyses of their concepts. The teams will then continue to progress through modifications to the existing capstone design courses as well as through mentoring from the UCSD entrepreneurship center and collaborations with MBA students.
This planning grant supports the development of BioENGINE (BioEngineering, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship), a new twelve-month Master’s of Science program at the University of California, Irvine that will provide rigorous, practical, hands-on, team-based training in biomedical innovation, entrepreneurship, and commercialization. In the planned program, students will work with select faculty to translate a pre-commercial project into a startup venture, or will work with an existing company to develop a new medical device. E-Teams will write Advanced E-Team and/or SBIR/STTR grants as their thesis reports, enter business competitions, create portfolios to showcase and disseminate their work, and have access to on-campus incubator space and a network of industry contacts/mentors to pursue opportunities once the program finishes.
Beloit College, a liberal arts school, is home to the Center for Entrepreneurship in Liberal Education (CELEB), which provides opportunities for experiential learning in support of the college’s entrepreneurship education program. To date, CELEB has been successful in attracting students from pre-business, the arts, and communications, but only a few science, mathematics, computer science, and pre-engineering students have been involved. This planning grant will support Beloit faculty in developing a new course, Invention, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship for International Collaboration, specifically designed to increase the participation of these students. The course will lead students in developing and commercializing new technologies addressing health, energy, or conservation needs in developing countries. It is intended that E-Teams will research the underlying technologies, develop prototypes, test feasibility, cultural appropriateness, market potential and projected costs and attempt to develop a high quality business model. After the course is completed, E-Teams will be able to incubate businesses in CELEB.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2012 - $41,000
This grant supports development of The Startup Class, a new interdisciplinary course at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. The Startup Class will pair Virginia Tech’s entrepreneurial ecosystem with research-based design pedagogy to support students in creating new technology ventures. In the course, students will integrate customer and product development (“lean startup” principles), creating technologies and businesses based around market needs. Teams will be able to pursue commercialization beyond the course by enrolling in VT KnowledgeWorks, a local business accelerator, and working with The Entrepreneurship Center @ Northern Virginia Technology Council. The long term goal is to design an innovation and entrepreneurship certificate program and eventually offer a minor in global engineering.
Polytechnic Institute of New York University, 2012 - $39,950
The existing entrepreneurship courses offered at NYU Poly require students to complete a real venture development project, moving through the standard stages of opportunity identification and evaluation, team building, marketing, and more. While these courses have succeeded in giving students an understanding of the entrepreneurial process, most E-Teams have found it difficult to advance to the commercial stage after the course ends, mainly due to a lack of resources and support. This grant will be used to (1) support NYU Poly E-Teams by funding prototyping and patenting, and (2) facilitate interactions between NYU Poly researchers, students and experienced entrepreneurs to foster joint ventures.
This grant supports the development of Sustainable Enterprise MBAs for Africa (SEMBAA), a joint educational venture of the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise (GSSE) MBA program at the College of Business at Colorado State University and the Chandria School of Business at United States International University in Kenya. SEMBAA will provide African students with a GSSE certificate to complement the USIU MBA and will also provide venture acceleration training at a cost they can afford. Student entrepreneurs will be taught and mentored by CSU/USIU faculty and other industry experts, with the ultimate goal of empowering African entrepreneurs to scale new enterprises and grow the economy.
The University of Bridgeport (UB) has the technical foundation to commercialize new technologies, with a variety of majors in business, design, engineering and technology management, but they need to strengthen the curriculum to encourage students from different disciplines to work together. This planning grant will support UB in developing a new course focused on interdisciplinary product commercialization. The course, called New Product Commercialization, will involve students from engineering, business and design in developing products focused on human health and environmental concerns. NCIIA funding will allow the instructor team to develop programming that will enable their teams to build prototypes and investigate intellectual property protection. The course will be developed in collaboration with UB’s incubator, the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
In a number of rural industries in the developing world, waste matter is burnt in order to generate the heat needed for manufacturing. This is the case in the Asian brick making industry, where the combustion of biomass is so inefficient it causes incredible amounts of air pollution (one third of the emissions of the global airline industry), acute respiratory illness, and poor crop growth. In Vietnam, the government has made attempts to shut down the traditional brick making industry because of the pollution, and some kilns have been shut down entirely.
This E-Team is developing a new low-cost gasifier to slash pollution in Vietnam’s traditional brick making industry. Gasification is a technology that converts organic material into clean burning, flammable gas. The team’s demonstration unit, built between Georgia Tech engineers and a Vietnamese partner organization, will cost roughly ten times less to run as current kilns and would pay for itself in under five years. The team is planning six more paid pilot installations. In Vietnam alone, over 10,000 small businesses stand to benefit.