Spotlight: Clean Tech Entrepreneurship

Shannon Beeman
October 24, 2013

This fall, U-M students from the College of Engineering and Ross School of Business will collaborate on the design of Western-style entrepreneurial businesses in the multimodal transportation space using innovative ideas drawn from emerging and developing economies. Peter Adriaens, professor of entrepreneurship and strategy, has repositioned his Clean Tech Entrepreneurship course to focus on the “New Mobility,”IT-enabled multi-modal transportation ranging from electric bikes, motor scooters and cars to public transport, taxis and ride sharing. Simultaneously, he has introduced into his multidisciplinary course the process of reverse innovation–a backward flow of ideation from entrepreneurs and small businesses in China, India and other third-world countries to large companies in the United States. The Zell Lurie Institute is the first institution in the nation to integrate reverse innovation into its entrepreneurship education. “This New Mobility is one of the hottest investment areas for entrepreneurial start-ups in clean tech,” says Adriaens, who received a two-year grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance to fund the course. “Ford and General Motors are positioning themselves to become transportation companies, moving beyond cars and looking at innovating in this space.” Reverse innovation offers opportunities to learn creative new product or business-model designs from societies that are less constrained by legacy freeways and infrastructure, he adds. Over the summer, three scouting teams of U-M students traveled to China, India, Brazil, South Africa and the Philippines with a student videotape crew to gather information from and film footage of entrepreneurs and companies engaged in mobility innovation. Their findings and analysis will form the basis for the fall-term course project, which will engage SMART e-teams in the development of technology prototypes and entrepreneurial business models in the New Mobility area. “After the course ends, students will take the most promising ideas forward through other Institute programs such as Dare to Dream, TechArb and the Michigan Business Challenge,”Adriaens says.

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