Approximately 180 students attended the three-credit core course in technology entrepreneurship at Polytechnique Montréal during the 2021-2022 school year. (Photo: 123RF)
MONTH OF ENGINEERING. When a “patent” soul goes into business, it is rarely to open a convenience store. Rather, he is the type that pushes the scientific and technical boundaries to offer humanity a new product, system or service. It is therefore not surprising that entrepreneurship education aimed at engineers is therefore colored by this desire for innovation.
This is the case, among others, of the “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” degree course at the École de technologie supérieure (ETS). One of its objectives is that the student is able to “understand the role of the technological entrepreneur” and to “identify the strategic components of an industrial sector”, we read in the description of the three-credit course.
“This means that the business plan taught has many more technological accents than the one presented in the context of training for the general public, explains François Gagnon, Director General of the ETS. You learn to think about the market in terms of competitive advantages, potential sales volumes, intellectual property management… ”he Insists on the importance for engineers to become familiar with standardization issues. “The technology market is often global,” he says. So you have to go through some key intermediaries, like the US Food and Drug Administration for pharmaceuticals and biologics, before you think about commercialization. ”To make it more concrete for students, engineer-entrepreneurs are regularly invited to speak with them.
Well: since 1996 ETS has had an incubator for high growth potential technology start-ups, Centech. “Our accelerator is recognized as one of the most efficient in the world”, underlines François Gagnon.
Polytechnique Montréal also offers a three-credit foundation course in technology entrepreneurship. About 180 students attended it during the 2021-2022 school year. Once this mandatory step is completed, they can, if they wish, enroll in additional training in finance, marketing, and so on.
The higher education institution of engineering also offers the course “Assembling a Technology Enterprise Project”, a six-credit hands-on laboratory. “At the end of the semester, the student can theoretically start his activity the next day,” comments Fabiano Armellini, the director of the course and professor at the Department of Mathematics and Industrial Engineering of the Polytechnique Montréal. Technology innovation, management and commercialization are not the preserve of engineers. The Proof: In partnership with HEC Montréal, Polytechnique Montréal encourages applicants enrolled in master’s programs in business management (MBA) to acquire skills in these areas as part of a graduate microprogram. MBA graduates are also admitted.
“Our continuing education offer for technology entrepreneurship is currently rather timid, acknowledges Fabiano Armellini. We are currently considering improving it to meet the needs of engineers who are already on the job market. “The latter, however, are not excluded. Caroline Plante, founder of the Kara Institute, a continuing education center in entrepreneurship and business management aimed at professionals , has established the training course “Starting your own business in the field of engineering consultancy” in order to meet the needs of this clientele.
This distance learning insists on notions such as lightning step (pitch) and human resource management. “Engineers generally love when the angle is straight, not 91 °, notes Caroline Plante. This Cartesian approach to things is sometimes incompatible with some subjective business functions, including promotion and marketing.
The certified administrator also makes it a point of honor to adapt the content of his training to the code of ethics of engineers. One of his articles provides, for example, that “the engineer must respect the secrecy of all information of a confidential nature obtained in the exercise of his profession”, which may have an impact on the gathering of information for a Marlet study.
“The idea is to dictate the main ethical lines of conduct in a business context”, specifies Caroline Plante. It’s a quick flyby during which we raise the flags. In one day we should not be under any illusions: an exhaustive review of the subject is impossible.