The Tech2Market class, within the Venture College, has matched MBA students from the College of Business and Economics with researchers from across the university.
“We started in the spring researching potential customers, doing customer validation and working on the value proposition,” said Eldar Sakebaev, an MBA student who is working with an engineer on how to best sell storable energy solutions.
Sakebaev is what the class calls an entrepreneur lead. “My job is to figure out where the technology can be applied, find the customers’ pain points and narrow down the options. We will pick the one with a low barrier to entry and one that is scalable. Tesla is pushing the boundaries in this field and it’s exciting to see what is happening.”
It’s estimated that the impact from commercialized technology to the U.S. GDP over the past two decades from universities and public research institutions, like Boise State, is close to $600 billion, noted Paul Cooperrider, technology commercialization program director at the Idaho Small Business Development Center who helped start the program.
“It makes sense to unlock the value of the intellectual property that is generated through the research which is funded with taxpayers’ dollars. We believe this collaborative and multidisciplinary approach can open the door to a greater student experience while contributing to the state’s tax base and economic vitality.” – Paul Cooperrider
Ed Zimmer, associate director of the Venture College at Boise State, works with students to guide their plans.
“The scientific skills and creativity that produce great research and intellectual property is different than the experience, knowledge and creativity required to find customers,” he said. “Our objective is to bring these talents together.”
Sydney Axtell, an entrepreneur lead working to bring a flexible hydration sensor to market, said she joined the program to experience the thrill of entrepreneurship.
“It’s like a sport for a lot of students in the program. If you want to get good at it, you have to practice and there’s no better practice than just doing it,” Axtell said.