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Skunkwork as a learning methodology - Findings from venture development projects in industry

Nilsson, Fredrik LU ; Bjärnemo, Robert LU and Kedström, Christer LU (2007) International Technology, Education and Development Conference (INTED) In Proceedings of the INTED conference
Abstract
This paper presents in some detail findings and experiences gained from a new course entitled

“Innovation Engineering” (IE). This course is offered in the Technology Management Programme (TM)

at Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

The incentive for developing the new course was the need for a more integrated and practical

approach where technical, customer and application problems from reality confront the participants.

The driving force behind this change of focus has been the ambition to emphasise real life situations

and generate a deeper market understanding as well as extensive insights into innovation and product

development than was covered by a previous course. In addition... (More)
This paper presents in some detail findings and experiences gained from a new course entitled

“Innovation Engineering” (IE). This course is offered in the Technology Management Programme (TM)

at Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

The incentive for developing the new course was the need for a more integrated and practical

approach where technical, customer and application problems from reality confront the participants.

The driving force behind this change of focus has been the ambition to emphasise real life situations

and generate a deeper market understanding as well as extensive insights into innovation and product

development than was covered by a previous course. In addition to product planning we also wanted

to introduce the role of an intrapreneur and to get an extension of the concept of product development.

A challenging task was to introduce intraperneurship into the curriculum. The theoretical treatment of

the subject is covered by traditional lectures supported by literature. But what about providing some

hands-on experience of intreprenurship in practice? In order to achieve that, four companies were

engaged (all of them global with technology as a core competence). At each of these companies

company representatives and the instructors of the course agreed upon a venture project during precourse

meetings. Thus learning arenas for the students were established.

The course was divided into two subprojects, one minor project and one major project. The minor one

was an introductory project, which aimed at providing the students with insights into the current status

of the company. A goal was also, to give the students the opportunity to identify a potential project on

their own. Alternatively the company provided one. The main project was to adopt the role of an

intrapreneur in the company setting, undertake the project development task and deliver the results in

the form of a business plan.

The students were divided into four project teams comprising nine individuals each. For each and

every one of the teams, pre-defined roles of responsibility within specific areas such as project

leadership, engineering design, logistics etc., were to be covered by the team members. A supervisor

was assigned to handle a specific area for each of the teams.

The evaluation of the course was based on interviews of students and representatives of the

companies and on a survey. In their roles as course leaders, the authors also evaluated and reflected

upon the process (as action research) and documented insights and experiences. Some examples of

the findings from the evaluation of the projects obtained from industry representatives and the

students are:

• The students initially felt quite uncomfortable with the “fuzzy” structure of the projects.

However, as the course proceeded the students (and the teams) created their own structure

and a clear maturation process could be identified.

• The outcomes of the projects have clearly contributed to industry. In one of the projects a

patent has been applied for and in another one there is a clear market opportunity provided by

the students, which the hosting company is now going for. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
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organization
publishing date
type
Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding
publication status
published
subject
keywords
university-industry collaboration, Education, technology management, SoTL, packaging logistics
categories
Higher Education
in
Proceedings of the INTED conference
conference name
International Technology, Education and Development Conference (INTED)
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
dd125519-7ead-4476-bff9-5e408f41e905 (old id 539038)
date added to LUP
2007-09-24 09:37:44
date last changed
2016-04-16 11:11:23
@inproceedings{dd125519-7ead-4476-bff9-5e408f41e905,
  abstract     = {This paper presents in some detail findings and experiences gained from a new course entitled<br/><br>
“Innovation Engineering” (IE). This course is offered in the Technology Management Programme (TM)<br/><br>
at Lund University, Lund, Sweden.<br/><br>
The incentive for developing the new course was the need for a more integrated and practical<br/><br>
approach where technical, customer and application problems from reality confront the participants.<br/><br>
The driving force behind this change of focus has been the ambition to emphasise real life situations<br/><br>
and generate a deeper market understanding as well as extensive insights into innovation and product<br/><br>
development than was covered by a previous course. In addition to product planning we also wanted<br/><br>
to introduce the role of an intrapreneur and to get an extension of the concept of product development.<br/><br>
A challenging task was to introduce intraperneurship into the curriculum. The theoretical treatment of<br/><br>
the subject is covered by traditional lectures supported by literature. But what about providing some<br/><br>
hands-on experience of intreprenurship in practice? In order to achieve that, four companies were<br/><br>
engaged (all of them global with technology as a core competence). At each of these companies<br/><br>
company representatives and the instructors of the course agreed upon a venture project during precourse<br/><br>
meetings. Thus learning arenas for the students were established.<br/><br>
The course was divided into two subprojects, one minor project and one major project. The minor one<br/><br>
was an introductory project, which aimed at providing the students with insights into the current status<br/><br>
of the company. A goal was also, to give the students the opportunity to identify a potential project on<br/><br>
their own. Alternatively the company provided one. The main project was to adopt the role of an<br/><br>
intrapreneur in the company setting, undertake the project development task and deliver the results in<br/><br>
the form of a business plan.<br/><br>
The students were divided into four project teams comprising nine individuals each. For each and<br/><br>
every one of the teams, pre-defined roles of responsibility within specific areas such as project<br/><br>
leadership, engineering design, logistics etc., were to be covered by the team members. A supervisor<br/><br>
was assigned to handle a specific area for each of the teams.<br/><br>
The evaluation of the course was based on interviews of students and representatives of the<br/><br>
companies and on a survey. In their roles as course leaders, the authors also evaluated and reflected<br/><br>
upon the process (as action research) and documented insights and experiences. Some examples of<br/><br>
the findings from the evaluation of the projects obtained from industry representatives and the<br/><br>
students are:<br/><br>
• The students initially felt quite uncomfortable with the “fuzzy” structure of the projects.<br/><br>
However, as the course proceeded the students (and the teams) created their own structure<br/><br>
and a clear maturation process could be identified.<br/><br>
• The outcomes of the projects have clearly contributed to industry. In one of the projects a<br/><br>
patent has been applied for and in another one there is a clear market opportunity provided by<br/><br>
the students, which the hosting company is now going for.},
  author       = {Nilsson, Fredrik and Bjärnemo, Robert and Kedström, Christer},
  booktitle    = {Proceedings of the INTED conference},
  keyword      = {university-industry collaboration,Education,technology management,SoTL,packaging logistics},
  language     = {eng},
  title        = {Skunkwork as a learning methodology - Findings from venture development projects in industry},
  year         = {2007},
}