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McMaster launches innovative Master’s program


October 23, 2010
By Mary Del


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Bringing together teams of entrepreneurs with different backgrounds and expertise to generate new business startups is the core concept behind a new Master’s degree program at McMaster University.

The Master of Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MTEI) degree is designed to bring social science, humanities, arts and business graduates interested in starting up technology-based businesses together with engineering and science graduates.

"We’re responding to the growing number of inquiries from non-engineering and science students interested in starting businesses needing technology but lacking the technical background," explained Rafik Loutfy, director of the Xerox Centre for Engineering Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which will administer the program.

"We also noticed that students in the engineering entrepreneurship program were informally teaming up with students in other disciplines to gain the marketing, finance or discipline-specific insight they lacked," added Loutfy. "It made sense to bring the two together." 

Unique to the program will be the self-selection of interdisciplinary teams by the student entrepreneurs with the aim of starting a viable technology-based business. Teams will develop investor-ready proposals, including business, marketing and financing plans, during the 16-month program. Teams will also develop a support network of both technical and business mentors from academia and industry.

"While entrepreneurs are celebrated for individual success, the reality is that they are successful because they can bring together and support the right team of expertise," said David Potter, director, Engineering & Management Program. "It’s usually the right combination of personalities, background and knowledge working towards a common goal that sees an idea through the start-up phase."

Teams will be encouraged to be comprised of individuals who specialize in marketing, finance and a field-specific discipline, such as health or energy, for example. Each team will include at least one engineering student.

"Rather than have one or two people trying to learn about marketing, finance or a particular technology to start their business, that expertise can be sitting at the table, with each person having a stake in the success of the company," said Potter.

The MTEI program complements the university’s popular Master’s of Engineering Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MEEI) degree, which was launched in 2005. 

Students in the programs will learn and use an industry-proven, business start-up methodology, take core courses related to entrepreneurship, and take two electives of their choice. They will apply tools and concepts to the creation of their business as they learn.

The new program is scheduled to start in September 2011 pending approval from the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies. Applications are now being accepted. More information can be found at www.businessinnovation.ca/MTEI.

The Faculty of Engineering is also adding an entrepreneurship stream to its five-year Engineering and Management undergraduate program, the first significant addition to the popular program in 30 years. Engineering students in the program moving into their second-year will take entrepreneurship courses and undertake a start-up project. Graduates will receive advance standing for the Master’s entrepreneurship programs offered by the Xerox Centre for Engineering Entrepreneurship and Innovation.