This course is built around a model of students working with real-life projects brought into the room by "industry project owners" from industry. Most of these people are owner-managers of small companies, or the inventors of the technology that they are trying to commercialise.
The program is a process of mutual learning in which a small team of students works closely with the project owner to review the business model, assess their past and future commercialisation strategy, and assess how they might move forward with the innovation.
The course is separated into six distinct components as outlined below:
An initial interview with the project owners
The project owners who volunteer to participate in the program are interviewed prior to the course. A specially developed diagnostic questionnaire is used to examine the innovation being commercialised and the firm’s approach to the management of the commercialisation process. This looks at their past track record, strategic, marketing, innovation and resources management methods, and future expected returns. This information is then used in the course to help guide the group analysis.
In the first workshop we use the diagnostic to undertake an examination of the strategic direction the project has been taking and the business model design for the innovation being commercialised. This uses the “lean canvas” tool and the diagnostic analysis from the interview to review the project and where it has been and wishes to go.
On the second day we examine the importance of customer/market intelligence and review the data and assumptions of the future customer and market responses to the innovation. A customer archetype is developed and gaps in the customer/market picture are examined. From here the student teams will explore market opportunities, gaps, threats and substitution threats while attempting to get a clear sense of the “voice of the customer”.
The students will return after approximately four weeks with a report on the business model, strategy and customer archetype for the project owner. In the third workshop we look at the resource requirements needed by the firm to implement the commercialisation process based on market feedback and assessment. A review of technical and commercial risk associated with the project is undertaken.
In this workshop we examine the financing and IP rights issues to provide “isolating mechanisms” designed to assist the firm to work out its commercialisation pathway options. This serves to develop a final business model and commercialisation pathway strategy for the innovation.
Students will devote the next four weeks to looking at the best commercialisation pathway strategy for the innovation with reference to resources, IP protection and technical, financial and market risks. They will bring this analysis back to the class and make presentations as well as delivering their final report to the project owners. In addition, each student is tasked to identify at least one “out of the box” idea for the innovation. They will present this on the final day.
Approach to project team work
Although the course depends on students working in project teams, the ability of a team to deliver a high quality outcome is contingent on all students individually keeping ahead of the curve by doing their reading and preparation prior to each workshop. Students will be expected to engage with the recommended texts and other information made available within the course. This should be read before each class session.