Companies and innovation
The Minor ‘Companies and Innovation’ focuses on new (high-technology) product innovations within established companies, i.e. internal venturing or corporate entrepreneurship, by examining their potential values from diverse aspects such as economics, management, strategy, ethics, safety and risk. The requisite view is that companies are not isolated entities but are embedded in a social context with various values and expectations. Firstly, there are the markets a company is operating in, where the laws of economics rule: supply and demand, investment, financing and marketing. Secondly, there are restrictions (and opportunities!) set by the enforced rules of the law. For instance, the legislator may demand competition and forbid exclusive price arrangements requiring firms to think of their strategies, such as their intellectual property protection. Thirdly, there are considerations regarding safety or security and risk, that is, the safety (or security) of the product(s) the company produces, but also the safety of the employees involved in the production process and environmental safety. Finally, current opinions about what is ‘good’ and ‘immoral’ (or what is ‘responsible’ and ‘irresponsible’) determine the company’s ethical standpoint shaping its corporate social responsibility. The ability to integrate technological development with diverse values of firm strategies, market, ethics and safety is key to innovations in companies. In sum, an integrated insight into these distinct viewpoints is essential for companies to make sensible decisions and to develop new products that are both technologically and socially relevant and acceptable.
The aim of the Minor is to offer students insights into how economics, strategic management, ethics, and safety and risk considerations impact innovation. This emphasis on multidimensional assessment of technological innovations within companies make the minor relevant, attractive and challenging for enterprising students, particularly technology-oriented students who would like to enhance their knowledge of management of innovation.
The main objectives of the minor are:
- Understand and apply the basic building blocks of innovation management in companies:
- Analyse organizational external business environment and internal business processes (e.g. financing), i.e. the ability to identify relevant organisational, technological and market factors that may positively and negatively influence innovation:
- Analyse and manage risk and safety (or security) issues that organizations have to deal with, e.g. product safety, occupational health and safety, privacy, etc.;
- Reflect on corporate responsibility of companies’ innovation (i.e. responsible innovation) from an ethical perspective;
- Apply knowledge and insights from course modules to solve a strategic management game;
- Study a socially responsible technological innovation within a company through a case study: i.e. develop, write and present a business plan of an innovative product within a company to an expert panel consisting of members of the business and academic community. The business plan should include market and business-economic analyses, strategic analyses, risk analyses and ethical reflections.
Additionally, the minor provides students with:
- A broad view on economic, managerial, ethical and safety boundary conditions (within as well as outside a company) that provides limitations as well as incentives for companies to innovate;
- Practical project skills (e.g. cooperation and communication) as students work together as an interdisciplinary team on a solid business plan for an innovative product of their own choice;
- A basis for responsible innovation and entrepreneurship;
- Invaluable experience dealing with various experts in the field of safety and risk, economics/business, marketing, (strategic) management, and innovation.
- Responsible management of risk and safety (5 ECTS)
- Strategic management game (4 ECTS)
- Innovation management (5 ECTS)
- Business economics, choice of technique and innovation (5 ECTS)
- Technology, innovation and ethics for companies (5 ECTS)
- Integration course (6 ECTS)
Note: All courses will be given in English.
Examples of previous case studies
- The H-Wing is a high performance sail in the sail market. The wingsail is hoistable and does not need modification to the mast or rigging, which makes it easy to integrate it in current boats
- The Robomop is a multi-purpose device which is able to vacuum, scrub, mop, and shine the floor. The device is able to walk and clean over stairs.
- The eyeSmart is a device containing image processing and analyzing software that would replace the ocular lens of existing microscopes and use AI image recognition technology to significantly lower the time required to detect diseases
- Brightcycle is a bike projector that enhances safety in the dark. It shows cars behind cyclists whether the cyclist is for example slowing down or going to make a right turn.
- The Sitbit is a wearable electronic device, capable of giving simple directional signals to the wearer once this person (e.g. small child, confused elderly) has left a certain safe perimeter, additionally alerting the caretaker of this person via an app.
Enterprising and creative students who want to pursue their ventures or career in established firms, who want to understand how companies work, who want to apply their engineering skills to enhance safety and sustainability in a cost effective and responsible way; overall, students who wish to broaden their horizon.