Globe and Mail: How non-business students can segue into an MBAApr 08, 2015
The following is an excerpt from the full article published in the Globe and Mail on April 8, 2014.
By Jennifer Lewington, Globe and Mail.
At Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business in Burnaby, B.C., a new graduate certificate in science and technology commercialization will be offered this September, aimed at research scientists and faculty members at SFU and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver who want to take their ideas to market.
“We [at SFU] and at universities across the country don’t provide our science and engineering graduates with the tools to commercialize their ideas, whether in their own venture or when they land a job after academia,” says Elicia Maine, academic chair of science and technology commercialization at Beedie.
As at Queen’s in Kingston, the new Beedie certificate is for credit and counts toward an MBA.
With tuition of $10,000, the Beedie program will be taught by tenured faculty one night a week over the course of a year. Classes will be restricted to participants from SFU and UBC, be they graduate students who have completed comprehensive exams, recent alumni or faculty members eager to bring their ideas to market.
“Every single assessment for the cohort will be made on them applying the framework they are learning from marketing, finance [and other topics] to their own technology of interest,” says Dr. Maine, who is also an associate professor of technology management and strategy. The year-long program includes development of a business plan and an “elevator pitch” to local investors.
“We are trying to change the lens through which highly-qualified people in science and engineering are doing commercialization so we can have more startups and spin-outs at SFU and UBC,” says Dr. Maine. “Equally, we want to prepare them for what they will face in industry, [such as] in a small or medium-sized enterprise where you need to know something about product development.”
She sees growing demand by students and working professionals for certificate and diploma programs in business when offered for credit and taught by tenured faculty and when participants can “rebrand” themselves to the private sector.
“Under those conditions there is very big demand for certificate and diploma programs,” she says.
Finlay MacNab, a PhD student in materials chemistry at SFU, is intrigued by the potential to rebrand himself with the new certificate.
Before returning to school 18 months ago, the 40-year-old had spent a decade with startup companies where he applied his research skills and knowledge but lacked the business skills to land key positions, such as project manager.
“I recognize my future is likely not quietly studying what I love in a university lab as a professor,” says Mr. MacNab. “My future is more likely to be in industry, and to make a place for myself I have to be able to navigate in that environment.”