Thursday, September 24
Are you a student who’s interested in starting your own tech business?
Do you have a great idea that you’d like to develop into something profitable? Interested in knowing how to patent and market your clever ideas?
Don’t miss the kick-off of a new seminar and networking series aimed at student inventors. The informal program — combining short discussions by guest presenters, interactive panel discussions and networking opportunities — is scheduled for 5 — 7 p.m. Thursday, September 24th in the School of Business Café. The program will feature discussions by student inventors C.J. Forse and Geoff Cullen of GoMotion, a startup company they co-founded along with partners from engineering and the MBA program; Dr. Luke Weinstein, a professor in the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (CCEI), and Mr. Tom Zawacki, CEO of lemonade.com.
The program is the brainchild of Dr. Weinstein and UConn alumnus John Hanson, who directs the Tech-Knowledge Portal Program, a unit of the University’s Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC). According to Mr. Hanson, the new series will include informal discussions by entrepreneurs, business leaders, student inventors and venture capitalists; interactive panel discussions; and a forum for meeting and networking among students across campus.
Mr. Hanson explained, “We sponsored a series of technology commercialization seminars in the past year that were intended for faculty researchers. We found that — increasingly — students were showing up to learn about the innovation process. But over time, as we tried to present subjects of interest to the more diverse audience, it became clear that we needed to create a second series that’s better designed to address the interests and questions of entrepreneurial students. We want this to be a low-key, informal atmosphere where students can ask questions, share ideas with peers from different disciplines and experiential backgrounds, and learn what’s involved in building a business. UConn has an array of support mechanisms in place to help entrepreneurs — students as well as faculty — protect their intellectual capital and transform great ideas into successful products.”
“Collaboration is critical to starting a business,” he commented. “An engineering or technology based startup business requires cross-fertilization among engineers or other inventors and people with experience in patenting and invention disclosure, knowledge on how to reach your target market, how to price and promote the product, how to finance it, how to upscale the production, how to distribute it, etc. We want to create a forum where students with varying skill sets and with different educational backgrounds can get together and consider collaborating on a new business idea.”
At Thursday’s program, two members of the GoMotion team will discuss their “all-terrain wheelchair“, which they developed for an innovative Entrepreneurship in Senior Designproject under the guidance of Drs. Richard Dino, Executive Director of the CCEI, and Dr. John Bennett, an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering. The program embeds interested engineering students in several entrepreneurship courses offered at the MBA level, and it requires senior engineering students to partner with MBA students on innovation teams.
Mr. Hanson knows something about the successful union of engineering and business. He earned a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at UConn while working full-time at Pratt & Whitney. During his engineering career, he worked in product development and gained insight into the entire process before deciding to pursue a UConn MBA. “When you’re trying to launch a tangible product or service, either as an entrepreneur or an ‘intrapreneur’ within a business, you need a cross-functional skill set,” he said. “My education at UConn in both engineering and business disciplines was a great foundation for that.”
The OTC is a UConn unit charged with bringing university innovations to market by providing expertise in patenting and licensing, creating and supporting viable start-up companies, and assisting industry in their interactions with the university. Under the OTC umbrella are four integrated programs that serve to spark innovation and entrepreneurial activity in Connecticut: the Center for Science and Technology Commercialization, the UConn Research & Development Corporation, the Technology Incubation Program, and the Tech-Knowledge Portal. To learn more about OTC, visit http://otc.uconn.edu/.
The seminar series is supported by OTC and Connecticut Innovations. Other seminars in the series are scheduled for October 7 and 22, November 4 and 18, December 3, February 3 and 18, March 3 and 25, and April 7.