The Evolution of an Entrepreneurship Curriculum Based on Experience and Best Practices

Craig Silvernagel, Richard R. Schultz, and Jeffrey A. Stamp,
University of North Dakota

The entrepreneurship curriculum at the University of North Dakota is under review in order to satisfy two primary goals: 1) To maximize the probability of creating intellectual property and getting product and service innovations to market, and 2) To minimize the “brain drain” of young, educated professionals from the Northern Great Plains. The proposed evolution of the curriculum is based on practical experience with student outcomes as well as the integration of best practices shared by colleagues at national conferences. The entrepreneurship certificate program will be modified specifically to help undergraduate non-business majors prepare creative ideas for the marketplace, including:
• Concept generation & technology entrepreneurship
• Entrepreneurship & the creative process
• Guerilla marketing
• Small business valuation
• Capstone I: Development of product & service innovations
• Capstone II: Entrepreneurial business planning
This sixteen-credit course sequence includes an interdisciplinary study of design, technology, production, business, and law.

1. Introduction
The entrepreneurship program at the University of North Dakota has been operating since 1998. Since its inception, the program has seen minor content modifications, but no major curriculum review has taken place up to this point. In January 2005, the program added its first endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Dr. Jeffrey A. Stamp, an internationally recognized leader in entrepreneurship education and creativity training. As such, the program is now under review in order to satisfy two primary goals: 1) To maximize the probability of creating intellectual property and getting product and service innovations to the marketplace, and 2) To minimize the “brain drain” of young, educated professionals from the Northern Great Plains. To this end, the curriculum will be modified to help students learn about the process of invention as defined by Maurice Kanbar: 1) Solve a problem. 2) Prove your invention/build a prototype. 3) Protect your idea. 4) Manufacture or license? 5) Market with a twist. By learning and practicing this time-tested sequence of steps, students will not only maximize their chances of developing marketable product and service innovations, but they will also be able to start their own ventures that are capable of succeeding in the ultra-competitive global marketplace.

Whenever faculty members mentor their students in learning the processes of invention and business development, many interesting intellectual property (IP) ownership and conflict of interest issues arise. Student-generated intellectual property will be studied beyond the context of “who owns what.” Specifically, the equitable distribution of IP ownership relies on the answers to three fundamental questions8: 1) Who formulated the problem statement? 2) Who actually solved the problem? 3) Who provided the resources to accomplish the work? This applies to any partnership, even the faculty mentor/student advisee relationship.

This paper describes a research instrument under development to acquire data on the expectations of IP ownership by students under a variety of idea generation and resource allocation scenarios. Additionally, a case study is presented that ponders the question of how much assistance a faculty member should contribute in helping a student-initiated venture conceived in a business planning course become a reality before a share of the profits or equity are offered to the faculty member and/or the university.

>>Read the peer-reviewed paper here (PDF)

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