This grant supports a new course in entrepreneurship at Michigan State University (MSU). Currently, the College of Engineering at MSU generates a number of invention disclosures every year from student-faculty teams, but the question of whether a business opportunity exists or not isn’t typically addressed.
The new course will introduce select students and faculty working on IP-generating projects to the entrepreneurial process (opportunity identification, IP strategy, market research, operations, financial analysis, etc.); provide students with a multidisciplinary team experience by including business students on each of the projects; and provide teams with experience in developing formal product feasibility and business plans, submitting them to Michigan’s Great Lakes Entrepreneurship Quest Competition and gaining “real-world” feedback. The program is integrated with university engagement in local economic development programs and has support from those programs for mentoring and support of successful student teams.
Design and Management of Biomechanical Products is a popular course among students at Michigan State University. In the course, teams of engineering and marketing students study the technical feasibility and market need for their product ideas. The products the teams create must function mechanically with the body and provide tangible benefits for end users.
Some examples of student projects include: All-in One, an improved baby bottle with a vent to eliminate airlock and air bubbles; and Air-Form, a children's structural toy made from inflatable plastic. Before the class received NCIIA funding, students paid for prototyping and research costs with their own money, thereby limiting the scope of their projects. Funding allowed students to fabricate more sophisticated prototypes of their projects. In addition, funding purchased additional machines for the prototyping shop, to accommodate the increased number of E-Teams.