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Program and Curriculum



By learning how science creates value in the marketplace, graduates with an MsE are prepared to develop and launch disruptive, scalable ventures that address a societal need.

This graduate program in entrepreneurship was an intensive, twelve-month program that  began in August with a one-week technology and business boot camp (non-credit bearing), followed by 36 credit hours of coursework including academic courses and a parallel year-long practicum incubator where students received mentorship and applied their new skills to their start-up ventures.

During the summer immediately following the academic year, students were provided with the opportunity and support (in the form of seed funding and mentorship) to launch their technology-based ventures, should both the venture and team be deemed viable. Students whose projects were not considered viable were given an opportunity to work in a local startup venture or innovative company, putting their accumulated entrepreneurial knowledge into practice.

The program is technology-focused. Students either proposed their own ideas, or they worked with the University of Michigan Office of Technology Transfer to assess the commercial viability of University-owned technology.

Figure 1

MsE Curriculum

Figure 2

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Curriculum Details

The overall structure of the MsE program was developed to provide students with the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary to shape, assess, and launch a scalable technology-based company. Experiential learning with mentorship is a central part of the program.

The master’s program consists of:

  • A technology and business “boot camp,” designed to provide an overview of technology-based entrepreneurship and to introduce those students who do not enter with a technology to the library of ideas that they can choose from as the core technology in their product. The boot camp develops a common language and mindset among the diverse cohort of incoming students to the degree program.
  • A two-semester practicum series in which commercialization paths for technologies are developed and new ventures are potentially launched.
  • A series of business and technology courses focused on specific stages of the entrepreneurial process, and linked to the practicum experience so that students receive instruction as and when they need it in their venture creation journey.
  • A launch opportunity experience, when students can work on launching their business, or work as an intern in an existing young, scalable company.

Boot Camp

Students begin the year with a technology and business boot camp intended to provide students with common terminology and a basic understanding of topics to be addressed in the upcoming courses. The boot camp is critical when bringing together a diverse student body. The technology component of the boot camp offers students insight into the current state-of-the-art of technologies that they can embrace. In the business component, students receive an overview of the entrepreneurial process and its relation to the business courses in the curriculum.

Courses

The MsE courses were designed to take students through the entire entrepreneurial process. While faculty from different schools are responsible for the implementation of specific courses, they work together to coordinate content for maximum value to students. Each course focuses on a specific discipline related to technology entrepreneurship, introduces students to the vocabulary and key concepts from that discipline, and provides students with the tools and confidence needed to participate in the interdisciplinary activities required of any entrepreneurial venture.

Each of the 16 courses is 1.5 credits, totaling 24 credits.

Fall A (first seven weeks of fall semester)

Opportunity Exploration: Students learn about finding technology opportunities in specific business spaces through innovation. Students learn ethnographic interview techniques to uncover latent problems in a market, and explore creative problem-solving techniques.

IP Strategy: Inventors and entrepreneurs have four concerns related to patent law: protecting their inventions in the very early stages of product development, determining the patentability of their invention, avoiding infringement of a competitor’s patent, and leveraging their patent as a business asset. This course addresses each of these concerns through the application of law and business cases to an invention of the student’s choice. The course also covers other aspects of IP strategy, including trade secret protection, copyrights, and trademarks.

Accounting for the Entrepreneurial Firm: Students learn the basic concepts and methods used in financial and managerial accounting to (1) help the entrepreneur make decisions, (2) understand the results of the period, and (3) communicate those results to outsiders. Financial accounting topics include the basic accounting model, transactions analysis, and the major statements (Balance Sheet, Income Statement and Cash Flow Statement).

Business Economics for the Entrepreneur: This course provides students with the microeconomic analysis that a potential entrepreneur can use to analyze business opportunities. Students learn the different components of costs and revenues and their relevance for new business ventures and the determinants and measurement of consumer demand. Students also learn the various ways in which firms organize their transactions, and discuss when each is desirable.

Fall B (second seven weeks of fall semester)

Entrepreneurial Marketing: Students learn how to validate needs in a potential market via structured market research methods. Students learn the fundamentals of marketing planning, strategy, and research. Topics include segmentation, targeting, and positioning.

Technology Business Models: To commercialize technology on a large scale and create wealth in the process, the entrepreneur must tackle challenges in financing, technology development and commercialization. Technological and business innovations must comply and co-evolve with regulatory requirements. In this class students learn and practice a systems-thinking approach to analyzing technological, business, and policy requirements involved in commercialization and scale-up.

Entrepreneurial Finance: This course teaches how to finance the entrepreneurial firm, whether that firm is a newly formed (startup) business or an entrepreneurial firm formed by the acquisition of an existing firm. Students learn about valuation and structuring of the investment in the entrepreneurial firm; external capital acquisition; financing valuation, structure and term sheets.

Systems Innovation: Technological progress enables economic growth, and technology based entrepreneurship is the link between technological breakthroughs and social value. This course explores general principles of technology-based entrepreneurship that will enhance the timing, impact, and success of entrepreneurial ventures.

Winter A (first 7 weeks of winter semester)

Entrepreneurial Operations: Once students have conducted sufficient market research to prove a market, and translated market needs into product specifications, product and process development begin in earnest. This course covers how one translates that conceptual work into physical reality subject to cost and performance constraints. Topics include prototyping, make/buy decisions, subcontracting, economic process design, project management and supporting control systems.

Entrepreneurial Ownership: Students learn how to allocate ownership within a founding team and plan for future growth, learn the necessary skills to become effective entrepreneurial managers, and recognize various entrepreneurial strategies and when each is appropriate.

Leading Startups: This class helps students understand the critical aspects of leading an entrepreneurial endeavor. Students review how to select and recruit a management team, how to design jobs and organization structure, motivate and incentivize employees, manage difficult people, and build high performance teams.

Technology Elective: Students enroll in an elective course that adds technology content knowledge to their venture development.

Winter B (second 7 weeks of winter semester)

Ethics in Design and Entrepreneurship: Students learn about the social consequences of their technical choices, reconciling conflicting obligations to different stakeholders, and the practical ethics of implementation and management.

Legal Aspects of Entrepreneurship: Law provides entrepreneurs with many opportunities for competitive advantage. This course offers an examination of the issues that every entrepreneur should understand, from startup to IPO. These issues include: legal concerns that arise when you leave your current employer to start a business; creating an appropriate ownership structure; product innovation; fiduciary responsibilities of management; funding the venture; contracting with vendors and customers; understanding responsibilities for hiring and retaining the best staff; and going public.

Technology Elective: Students enroll in an elective course that adds technology content knowledge to their venture development.

Entrepreneurial Strategy: This class provides the entrepreneur with a general strategic management orientation. Topics covered include identifying a potentially profitable market space, and industry competitive analysis for profitability potential.

Practicum

As entrepreneurial skills are developed in the classroom, students pursue a practicum component in parallel with their business and technology courses. The objective of the practicum is to provide students with the opportunity to apply classroom material to the activities that lead to a real-world, high value, scalable technology-based new venture. Students form teams to either work on commercializing a University of Michigan technology, or work on a venture of their own choosing. Teams work through the entire process from idea to business reality, applying the skills they have learned, while working with relevant industry mentors.

The practicum runs through both semesters for a total of 6 credits.

Launch/Fellowship and Summer Practicum

During the summer following the academic year, students are provided with the opportunity and support to launch their venture. Students are given guidance for three months and seed funding (should their ventures and teams seem viable) to pursue their venture or product launch. Students that find that their projects are not viable are given an opportunity to work in a local startup venture or company, applying the entrepreneurial knowledge they have accumulated during the year.

The summer practicum, for all students, runs through the summer for a total of 6 credits.