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Philippine Commission for Higher Education (CHED)

Technopreneurship 101:

Engineering Entrepreneurship or Entrepreneurship for Engineers

by

Rigoberto C. Advincula, Ph.D.

Professor, Case Western Reserve University

PhilDev Board of Trustee

Summary:

  • The course can be designed as a 3 -credit course (1 semester) or a sequence of 2-3 credits per semester (2 semester) course. At the minimum, Technopreneurship 101 is a 3-credit required course for ALL Engineering Majors.

  • The context of teaching it in the Philippines will require understanding the limitations in time, modifications of existing curriculum and requirements, and availability of resource persons for guest lectures, interviews or surveys, including materials for study and approaching potential investors.

  • Every effort should be made to adapt it to the reality of Philippine culture, regulations, and business environment or opportunities to start a venture business.

Pre-requisite:

  • Must be given to a student of Sophomore Standing who is trained in the sciences and engineering disciplines with a rounded general education in arts, languages, and humanities.

  • For a graduate student in engineering (MS or Ph.D.) , the course can be offered as an elective

  • No specific subject pre-requisites.

Course Objectives:

The course should be designed to explore the entrepreneurial mindset and culture utilizing a technology or engineering background. This should fit into goals of starting a company or being involved in an entrepreneurial or R&D effort in companies of all sizes and industries. Hence this should be applicable also in training future scientist and engineers to participate in Research and Development (R&D) activities. The course should enable the student to:  

  1. Understand and experience the entrepreneurial process from the generation of creative ideas,

  2. Understand the market needs or provide a solution to a key problem,

  3. explore the feasibility and creation of a business enterprise,

  4. implementation of creative ideas into real products, and

  5. experience the dynamics of participating on a business team, create and present a business plan for a technology idea. All of the objectives and the activities of the course should provide the background, tools, and life skills to participate in the entrepreneurial process within a large company as an engineer, in a new venture, or as an investor.

Course Outline:

The course can be divided into three elements or stages:

  1. Introducing the entrepreneurial way and philosophy

  2. Idea generation and market analysis

  3. Business planning and execution

Ideally all three elements are integrated from start to finish. While it is possible to implement at the earliest possible phase the business planning, the whole course should be presented in a "real-world" format. Students should be able to take the roles of company founders and investors, inventors and innovators, creating a vision and execution plan for their company, and raising funds — exactly as would be done in a true entrepreneurial endeavor. Another format is that a student can take the role of a principal investigator in a research laboratory (R&D) setting and is guided by entrepreneurial principles to come up with the best solution or products that the company will adapt or consider for R&D investment.

The course should be delivered along the following outline of major course themes:

  • The Entrepreneurial Way. Introduction to Entrepreneurship — Introduction to Technology Entrepreneurship and as Entrepreneurs, Technology Ventures, Role of Engineering, research, and development, Success and Failures, Attributes and Myths of Technology Entrepreneurs, Engineers Mindset as an Entrepreneurial Leader, Problem Solving, and Entrepreneurial Value Proposition.

    • This will constitute mostly lectures, reading assignments, and discussions.

    • This part of the course should establish clearly for the student why entrepreneurship is vital for training and economic growth.

    • Resource Speakers from Successful Engineers, Start-up Founders, and Venture Capitalists should be invited including networking opportunities.

  • Idea Creation and Feasibility Analysis— Creativity, What is innovation? Innovationeering, Success and Failure Case studies, Entrepreneurial Idea Generation and Feasibility Analysis, Science and Engineering differentiation, Technology Commercialization Potential and limits, Paths and Barriers from Idea to Market, Assessing and Presenting opportunities.

    • This will constitute some lectures but mostly team exercises, discussions, and surveys.

    • This phase should define the principles behind creativity, design, and innovation. Solutions to existing problems complement identifying opportunities from inefficiencies and price. It should also clearly establish the role of applied science and engineering as an economic driver and in value proposition.

  • Business Planning and Execution —Business and Venture planning, Business Structuring and Strategy, Value of Networking, Financial Analysis and Projections; Market and Competitive Analysis, Presentation of the Opportunity, Intellectual Property Strategies for Technology Companies; Marketing, Sales and Distribution Strategies, Investment and Financial Strategies, Venture Growth and Value Harvesting.

    • Team planning and activities should focus on preparation for a pitch competition.

    • Product validation and market scoping and segmenting.

    • The final outcome should be a business plan on a technology or solution to be implemented that will have a market and a pathway for funding.

    • Provide networking activities

ESSENTIAL TOPICS

Note: In a 1 semester course, these topics are considered essentials (*), the rest can be covered if there is ample time or introduced but not covered in depth. In a second semester course or elective course, the other topics can be fully developed or covered more extensively.

ESSENTIAL Course Topics or Lecture Division

Topic 1: Innovation and Ideas*

·       what is innovation?

·       research vs development – translational research

·       types of innovation: product, process, and business model

·       innovation‐driven vs small‐medium enterprise

·       organization‐driven vs market‐driven ideas

Topic 2: Value Proposition*

·       benefits vs features, relation to needs, and high value adding

·       solution driven or efficiency improvement

·       value = benefits/cost

·       value proposition statement including Needs, Approach, Benefits per cost, Competition

Topic 3: Customers*

·       customer needs, pain points and demographics

·       market research and validation

·       the decision-making process

·       target customer profile, persona

Topic 4: Competitive Advantage, Markets*

·       classes of competitors

·       product differentiation, positioning

·       market structures

·       market segments, size

·       beachhead market and creating your market

 

Topic 5: Introduction to Intellectual Property*

·       what is IP? why have IP protection? Cost of protection

·       copyright, trademarks

·       patents, trade secrets, contracts, non‐disclosure and non‐compete agreements

 

Topic 6: Execution and Business Plan*

·       roadmap for research, development, and production

·       budget and timeline

·       sales and marketing plans; cost of customer acquisition, customer lifetime value

·       plans for R&D, operations, sales and marketing, human resources

·       lean concepts and organization

 

Topic 7: Financial Analysis and Accounting Basics*

·       cash flow statements and projection

·       income (P&L) statements; accrual accounting, depreciation, operating expenses

·       balance sheets; equity, liability

·       breakeven time

 

Topic 8: Raising Capital*

·       sources: debt and venture capital

·       incubators, accelerators

·       grants, competitions

ADDITIONAL TOPICS (cover when able or spread out in the course)

Topic 9: The Product or Service

 what is the core that makes it special

 minimum viable product and iterative design

 cost of goods sold

 product development plan, Gantt chart

 

Topic 10: Business Models

 time value of money

 revenue generation

 price structure; price elasticity

 channels of distribution

 strategic partners

 

Topic 11: Ethics and social responsibility

 ethics. codes of ethics; theoretical frameworks; broader ethical considerations

 social businesses

 

Topic 12: Globalization

 cultural differences in communication

 ethical issues

Communication and Team Exercise Topics or Projects

 Note: These topics are designed to enable creativity, group participation, competition, and experiential learning. It should be included either as a capstone activity or project in a 1-semester course. In a 2-semester course, these team and interactive exercises should be more of the norm.

 For a 1-semester course, these capstone activities (*) are choices, but at least 1 activity should be selected and accomplished within the semester.

 Topic A: Elevator pitch and pitch competition*

Topic B: Business pitch (to investors/management)

Topic C: Visual communication of results

Topic D: References, literature searches

Topic E: Conference presentations (preparing and giving oral/ poster presentations) *

Topic F: Scientific papers and technology reviews

Topic G: Proposals (R&D) Preparation and Presentation*

Topic H: Presentations to companies

Topic I: Networking with Invited Speakers and Potential Investors*

Topic J: Attendance at an Entrepreneurship/Technopreneurship Conference or Activity*