SMU Graduate Program Designed to Help Entrepreneurial Students Capitalize on Mega-Projects

If you are a technologist and an innovator, and you think you have an entrepreneurial bent, then do I have the training program for you!

It is at Saint Mary’s University, and it is called the Master of Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MTEI) program. I know I could have used it when I was starting out, instead of my Master of Hard Knocks (MHK) post-graduate work.

The MTEI program is the brainchild of Dr. Dawn Jutla of SMU’s Department of Finance, Information Systems, and Management Science, which is part of the Sobey School of Business. Its intent is to build a community of educational, industry, and government organizations working together to help students who want to learn about entrepreneurship.

While SMU is the host institution, they are inviting other universities to participate in the program, and have already had discussions with Dalhousie, Mount Saint Vincent, and NSCC. They also plan to have plenty of interaction with industry, by way of such things as visiting lecturers and mentors.

A recent agreement with Innovacorp provides the program with an incubation facility, although exact numbers of how many students it will be able to handle are still to be finalized. Discussions have also been had with angel investor networks and economic development agencies.

A Partner Page on the MTEI web site is designed to bring in as many stakeholders as possible, and currently lists Nova Scotia Business Inc., Innovacorp, and the Women in Science and Engineering group, as well as several businesses started by SMU graduates.

SMU hopes to develop a curriculum customized for innovators in our region, so they will be better prepared to capitalize on emerging opportunities such as the mega-projects announced over the past few years around the offshore, energy and shipbuilding.

The program consists of eight courses which will be taken in eight months, on such topics as Marketing, Finance, Technology Strategy, and Globalization. These take place on Fridays and Saturdays, and are taught by a faculty of eight professors from all over the country, as well as from Mexico and the UK.

After the eight months of coursework, students embark on one of three streams: an eight-month subsidized internship with a business, a project such as starting one’s own business or consulting practice, or a thesis related to business in the region.

The plan is to continuously develop new curriculum materials and research that are customized for the emerging needs of this region.

What Jutla hopes will come out of this are students that get transformed into “T-shaped” innovators and leaders – people with a depth in technology (metaphorically, the T’s vertical bar), which they can apply across a broad spectrum of entrepreneurial and business situations (the horizontal bar).

She told me she got the idea from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, whose “Enterprise Development Center” is the largest incubation centre on the east coast. The challenge with getting such a thing going in the Maritimes is one of resources, and the Sobey School of Business is solving it through the partnerships mentioned above.

Jutla is convinced that a business school has a large role to play in a region’s economic development, and that a program such as MTEI will positively impact the efficiency of all sectors of the local economy, by leveraging technology to improve productivity and lower costs.

It should also help address the issue of skills shortage, by attracting talent to clusters already identified as being strategic to our region, such as information technology and biotechnology.

Doors to the MTEI program open in the fall of 2013, with applications currently being accepted. Tuition fees listed on their website are $15,500 for Canadian students and $25,000 for international students.

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