Consistently, Maryland stands at or near the top of national rankings for basic research and development. This will come as no surprise to many who do business in the state, whether it's in government contracting, defense, health care, banking and finance, or in any one of the dozens of other key sectors of the knowledge economy as defined by the Silicon Valley model. But its much lower position in entrepreneurial activity—#33, according to a recent report by the Kauffman Foundation—is prompting the Merrick School of Business to ramp up its efforts to provide first-rate preparation for the state's future leaders of tech-oriented businesses, whether new or established in the marketplace.
Debuting this fall, the M.S. in Innovation Management and Technology Commercialization program is intended for working students who plan to transition from the laboratory to organizational management. It integrates technological, market and organizational issues into the core of the program. Students with science- and technology-based degrees can enhance their career potential, moving into management through the program's four themes:
- organizational creativity;
- new product development;
- managing a growing technology firm;
- resource acquisition.
"The talent is here in Maryland, but these ambitious, highly savvy women and men won't stay if we can't meet their needs when they are ready to start or grow a business that absolutely requires an understanding of moving products, services and processes from the bench to the market," said Darlene Smith, dean of the school. "What we are doing is simple: We're meeting a demand."
Smith said the school is taking a broad-based approach to conveying this knowledge; there is a concerted effort by the faculty and administration to ensure that these graduate courses are taught in multiple contexts, with a special focus on evaluating research and development techniques, post-startup improvements (including marketing, operations, human resources management and financial management), resource acquisitions, and technology transfer.
"Our approach goes well beyond teaching the basics," she said. "To be an innovator and an entrepreneur in a high-tech R&D environment, you must understand how to bring together your familiarity with technology and your grasp of effective management techniques. Tomorrow's great business successes are going to be comfortable in many areas, whether it's creating and introducing a new product, growing the organization, or projecting next quarter's earnings. We believe that our students can handle that—they're not building these skills in isolation."
Smith pointed to a number of initiatives introduced by the Merrick School of Business to foster a creative and productive environment for entrepreneurial students of all kinds, such as its Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, its undergraduate program in information systems and technology management, and its new Entrepreneurship Fellows Program.
"This is a period of huge transition in the way business is taught," Smith said. "We are determined to provide an education that a student can use for years to come."
Learn more about the M.S. in Innovation Management and Technology Commercialization.