Entrepreneurship course helps accelerate commercialization of Wayne State innovations

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August 07, 2018

During the 2018 winter semester, the entrepreneurship and innovation certificate program recently launched by the Mike Ilitch School of Business offered a course designed to provide insights and direct experience in addressing challenges of bringing research-based innovations to market and preparing for a capital raise.

The course, Special Topics: Technology Commercialization (EI 5900-002 / EI 7800-002) played an instrumental role in supporting the commercialization of several Wayne State innovations, helping university researchers and spinoff startups attract industry interest and additional funding. Members of the class also assisted in developing the business model for a startup founded by one of the other students in the class.

The class was taught by adjunct faculty member Edward Kim, who currently serves as a mentor-in-residence at the WSU Technology Commercialization Office and as an industry advisor for the University of Pittsburgh Medical School Coulter Translation Research Program. 

Over the past 20 years, Kim has held numerous executive, board advisor and founder roles in investor-backed tech startups, as well as management and technology assignments in North America, Europe and Asia with Fortune 100 companies.

Student teams were formed around six innovations, each at a different stage of development and market readiness, and the teams focused on three critical tasks supporting commercialization of these technologies:

  • Validating product-market fit by conducting customer interviews
  • Reiterating the business model using Lean Startup tools and analyses
  • Presenting the recommended business model and go-to-market plans

As in the real world, students were asked to make decisions based on imperfect and incomplete information, worked directly with actual customers, and adapted theoretical business principles to the challenge of developing a viable business model.

At the end of the term, every team delivered professional quality presentations to several investors, a corporate technology scout and WSU faculty members. To date, every innovation from the course either has taken a step to commercialize or has received funding interest.

The course is being offered to both undergraduate and graduate students in the fall 2018 semester. 

Innovation startup teams from the course

  • Nanosensor technology for industrial gas detection
    • Wayne State technology
    • Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) Grant
    • Licensing partner engaged
  • Repella, an innovative eco-friendly marine coating technology to reduce fuel consumption
    • Wayne State technology 
    • Technology Development Incubator (TDI) Grant through WSU Technology Commercialization Office
    • Startup launch planned
  • Augmented Reality (AR) technology for telehealth market
    • Wayne State technology
    • TDI Grant
    • Startup launch planned
  • Button2Button, an innovative adaptive clothing closure system for people with disabilities
    • Wayne State student startup
    • 2nd place OptimizeWayne
    • Startup launched
  • BrainFx, a brain disorder detection technology
    • Industry partner startup
    • TDI Grant in partnership with WSU Institute of Gerontology
    • Completed seed round capital raise
  • E2i, an enterprise software to manage and reduce carbon emission
    • Wayne State technology
    • Anderson Institute funded

Special thanks to the WSU Technology Commercialization Office and Joan Dunbar, assistant vice president of research, for providing resources and access to the technologies.

Steven Townsend, Director of Marketing
smtownsend@wayne.edu, (313) 577-0202