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16 January 2006 PR 06/04

Business School urges companies to put their business ideas to the test

Companies are being urged to bring their latest ideas and technologies to Loughborough University, to enable their business potential to be assessed.

Using a cutting-edge technique developed in the US, students on the MBA programme will evaluate the potential of the technology or idea and suggest ways to aid its commercialisation.

The ‘HiTech’ programme has been brought to this country, and adapted for the MBA programme, by Loughborough University staff, working in association with colleagues at North Carolina State University. At the programme’s heart is a framework, or algorithm, that explores the interaction between technology, products and markets. This method of assessing business potential has been responsible for the creation of more than 250 jobs in existing companies and spin-out ventures in the US, which have attracted over $120m in venture capital.

“At this stage we are looking for unexploited ideas and/or technologies, or perhaps a technology that is already being exploited but not to its full capacity,” explains Grahame Boocock, Senior Lecturer in the Business School. “The technology shouldn’t be too ‘blue sky’ and there must be commercial applications. The ideal project would comprise a platform technology with high growth potential.

“The algorithm works best with B-to-B manufacturing technologies, although it can also be applied to service sector firms or those selling to the public.”

Students on the University’s MBA programme, who tend to be ‘high fliers’ in their 30s, will work in groups, each on a specific technology. Each group will consist of students with a mix of technology and business expertise.

At every stage of the exercise, the groups will be faced with critical decisions about how to develop the technology: a single technology might yield three to five products that can be offered across 10 to 15 markets. In some cases there might appear to be a clearly defined market and product for a given technology, but the algorithm allows the full potential of any idea to be assessed. The groups then put together a portfolio that evaluates in depth the potential of a given technology and demonstrates the most appropriate way to commercialise that technology.

“The feedback from businesses that participated in the scheme last year was very positive. In every case, the technologists felt that the students added great value to existing business plans or forced them to question preconceived ideas about the way forward,” says Grahame.

It should be stressed that the Intellectual Property of any technology or idea remains with the company and that all participants on the MBA programme sign Non-Disclosure Agreements.

The next Technology Evaluation and Commercialisation module of the MBA will be run from February to May 2006. It is essential that the student groups are able to discuss progress with the inventor or technologist. Companies participating in the scheme must be available to attend two sessions in Loughborough – on the afternoon of Friday 17 February and the morning of Saturday 11 March – and will be invited to a series of presentations on Saturday 6 May. The students might also make contact between formal sessions. In return, the University offers a modest honorarium and will cover any expenses.

If you would like to participate or want more information about the HiTec algorithm, please contact Grahame Boocock, Tel: 01509 223117, Email: j.g.boocock@lboro.ac.uk, or Kate Clift Tel: 01332 874183, Mob: 0781 4989476, Email: kate.clift@btopenworld.com

Ends

For further information about the Business School and Loughborough University, please contact:

Notes to editors

Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place it in the top flight of UK universities; the National Student Survey ranked Loughborough equal first among full-time students; and industry highlights the University in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 40% of Loughborough’s income is for research, and 60% for teaching. The University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development; and for its outstanding work in evaluating and helping to develop social policy-related programmes.

In 2006 Loughborough celebrates the 40th anniversary of its University Charter, awarded on 19 April 1966 in recognition of the excellence achieved by Loughborough College of Advanced Technology and its predecessor Colleges. Loughborough University of Technology was renamed Loughborough University in 1996.

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