A key feature of this program is the opportunity for graduate students to pursue the development of a new business through the New Venture Creation Practicum.
The educational philosophy of the practicum can be summed up in two key principles:
Team-based, Action-based, Learning by Creating Value
Action-based education provides learning opportunities that are simply not feasible in the classroom setting. This has long been recognized, with clinical training in medicine, laboratory-based training in the natural sciences, and studio-based training in the arts. Students can learn to navigate a highly unstructured entrepreneurial business environment by working together in a clinical environment to tackle real problems and exploit real opportunities, with the potential to create real economic value. In fact, we expect some students to become major players in starting companies that were the focus of their practicum. Thus, they move directly from student to a leadership role in a new firm.
Surrogate Entrepreneurship, in Partnership With External Idea Providers
Many entrepreneurship programs at the undergraduate and graduate level emphasize experiential learning, and often by encouraging and supporting students to design and launch their own business ideas, at least as an extra-curricular activity. Although there are a few gems among student-generated business ideas, it is usually the case that students themselves do not have sufficient experience or networks to develop the most significant opportunities. In contrast, matching student teams with technical or business ideas arising from companies or university researchers serve to link those student teams into the idea providers’ professional networks, which greatly enhances the chances for technical and commercial success. At the same time, such an approach can facilitate the development of ideas and intellectual property on behalf of a range of stakeholders who may not otherwise be in a position to devote time and energy to do so.
Steps in the Practicum Process
- Familiarization with companies and their efforts at innovation in AREC 511
- Closer evaluation of possible practicum project ideas in AREC 513
- Team formation and project selection in AREC 517
- Customer discovery process and validation of value proposition in AREC 586A
- Design of the product and the pitch in AREC 586B
- Evaluation, presentation, and decision to launch in AREC 586C
- Optional extended runway through continuing enrollment, to gain traction for new venture
Details for execution of the practicum project are laid out in the course syllabi and practicum prospectus documents provided to enrolled students.