Tucker Marion, Assistant Professor in the College of Business Administration
James Read, Professor from Mass College of Art

At both the undergraduate and graduate level, classes on New Product Development (NPD) have historically focused on best practices employed by large, established corporations. New ventures, however, cannot follow the same rules to successfully commercialize a new product. New technology ventures are unique in their lack of resources (both human and financial), and their need to work quickly, under deadlines while managing risks. Additionally, technology-focused new ventures span the R&D spectrum, from agile development like software to long-lead science like biotechnology. Within these industries, the methods and tools used in NPD can be unique.

For these reasons and to help new entrepreneurs and inventors choose the best strategies to reach their markets, Professors Tucker Marion of Northeastern University and James Read from Mass College of Art, have developed a transformational new product development course. In its fourth year, this unique program addresses the similarities and differences of entrepreneurial New Product Development across the technology spectrum (software, mechanical, biotech, etc.) combined with an experiential semester-long project.

Realizing that the most successful new ventures come from a real combination of entrepreneurship and design, the course organizes students into project teams, giving them not only the opportunity to work on several real case studies with industry experts and experienced mentors, but also the chance to practice their knowledge with an experiential entrepreneurial micro-funded project.

Each team, composed of students with diverse backgrounds, is given from $500 to $1,200 to develop “works-like” and “looks-like” prototypes. Instructed to be resourceful in completing their projects, the final grade is impacted in part by adherence to budget.

Consistent positive feedback of demonstrators shows how much these new entrepreneurs learn through the challenges of this special program.  The project results in products that are more advanced at the preliminary design stage and are more customer-oriented at the prototype stage. This “Multidisciplinary New Product Development course for Entrepreneurs”, may also be opened to MBA students in the near future.