Build it and they will come (INV 292: Commercialize): The core of Innovation Engineering courses is to teach students how to “start up like a start-up.” They are taught to reduce risk and increase success rates with innovation using the tools and methods that drive small businesses’ success rates with innovations — success rates that are 10 times greater than for large corporations. Four of the commercialization principles are: simultaneous engineering of product, promise and profit, in which students are taught to accelerate success and reduce risk by optimizing the trade-offs between the product reality, customer promise and profit formula; fail-fast, fail-cheap learning cycles, in which students are taught a bias for action and experimentation, instead of using planning, meetings and more planning to drive out risk; open innovation collaboration, with students learning to reduce risk by borrowing, partnering and collaborating, rather than “doing it all themselves”; and data-driven innovation, in which students are taught how to do early-stage sales forecasts and assessments to identify odds of success, and key “death threats” and risks early in the innovation process, when there is still the time, energy and money to do something about them. Students’ learning is made real through real-world case studies. For example, they are provided a real invention and challenged to do a patent search and write a provisional patent application. They also help entrepreneurs and inventors translate their ideas into business opportunities, complete with a sales forecast, estimates of time and cost to first sale, and a fail-fast, fail-cheap action plan.
Leading innovation: UMaine is dedicated to helping alumni and Maine residents generate jobs and wealth through innovation. Today, there are two new ways for alumni to participate in the Innovation Engineering program and get involved in the strategy to improve Maine’s rankings in innovation-led economic development. The first is the Innovation Engineering Leadership Institute, a special opportunity for alumni and Maine residents to attend an intense program based on the accelerated graduate curriculum in Innovation Engineering. (Registration information is online: www2.umaine.edu/innovation) Through interactive case studies, you learn an innovation leadership “tool kit.” In addition, you reinforce learning by directly applying it to your business, government or nonprofit organization. At these institutes, I will teach you how to realize an order of magnitude improvement in your ability to lead the creation, communication and commercialization of meaningfully unique ideas for more profitable products and services.