Nearly 90 MBA students at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business have a new appreciation for inventions and the patent process, thanks to a course on product development and forecasting.
The class, taught by Robert Thomas, professor of marketing, connected students with about a dozen inventions and patents from the Georgetown Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC). The projects are inventions and patents of Georgetown faculty.
The students developed and screened ideas for new products based on the inventions, designed concepts, and tested demand in the market for those concepts. At the end of the course, the students presented their findings to OTC staff.
The projects – mainly from faculty in the sciences and the Medical Center – ranged from methods for blocking malicious network attacks, to therapy to treat diabetes and obesity, to biomarkers for memory loss.
Brooke Carroll (MBA ’16) was part of a group of students that worked with OTC on a new Vitamin D test kit. The kit, already a patented product, is faster, cheaper, and more accurate than existing tests.
“Our project identified the market that we felt would license the product – large clinical labs like Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp,” Carroll said. “We also sized the market and ultimately came up with market projections and forecasts. I now understand how to incorporate the Bass Model, diffusion models, and conjoint analysis when developing a new product, and I think it will help me in the long run.”
Another group of students worked on a new method of securing information on mobile devices to prevent cyberattacks.
“I learned the step-by-step process of new product development,” said Yakut Bilgin (MBA ’16), a member of the student team. “From the initial idea creation to final product launch, I know how to proceed and which tools to use. This course helped me develop a comprehensive understanding of the activities and analytical methods necessary to manage new product development and forecasting.”
For Thomas, author of New Product Development and New Product Success Stories: Lessons From Leading Innovators, the course fits with Georgetown’s mission as a student-centered research university.
“In these projects, we started with research conducted by professors who developed new medical and information technology inventions to help people's lives – and this is extended in the course with Georgetown students conducting research on the demand for these inventions,” Thomas said. “It is a perfect blend of students doing research based on faculty research.”