Marketing military technology target of Ball State-Navy teams

Topic: Miller College of Business

November 23, 2009

Entrepreneurship students at Ball State University will work with U.S. Navy researchers to develop commercial applications for military projects through a technology transfer initiative.

Military 2 Market (M2M) is a result of an educational partnership agreement between Ball State's nationally recognized Entrepreneurship Center, the Department of Defense and the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane), which operates a research-centered facility about 70 miles southwest of Indianapolis.

Students in the program will be given access to government patents and intellectual property and challenged to find commercial opportunities for the technologies, explained Michael Goldsby, the Entrepreneurship Center's executive director and Stoops distinguished professor of entrepreneurship. The center is a component of the Miller College of Business.

"This partnership provides students the opportunity to work with some of the best scientists and engineers in the world," Goldsby said. "Students will develop business ideas around existing applications that are currently being patented. Bridging military technology with entrepreneurship education creates a unique learning experience for our students."

The first step in the process takes place next spring, when junior entrepreneurship students will write commercialization studies for potential businesses based on the military applications they study. In their senior year, the students will be expected to integrate the technologies into  business plans for presentations at national competitions and during E-Day (Evaluation Day) as part of the New Venture Creation course.

A key feature of E-Day is a final pass-or-fail review that requires seniors to put their degrees on the line when their business plans are analyzed by a group of top business leaders just days before graduation. Student participating in the new M2M program will receive coaching from Navy technology transfer officers, laboratory scientists and entrepreneurship faculty.

John Dement, technology engagement officer at NSWC Crane, said Navy researchers and engineers are constantly developing innovative solutions to solve military problems. 

"The resulting technologies often have non-Department of Defense applications," he said. "We hope our partnership with the Ball State Entrepreneurship Center will provide real-world educational opportunities for the students as well as identify potential business partners to make, use or sell the technology for economic development. That's a win-win partnership."

NSWC Crane officials contacted Goldsby shortly after several Ball State juniors studying entrepreneurship visited the first technology showcase hosted by NSWC Crane in September at the convention center in Bloomington, Ind. Students had the opportunity to view presentations of issued patents and engage with the scientists who pioneered the technology.

Ball State's entrepreneurship program has previously worked with economic development officials in the southern Indiana region neighboring NSWC Crane. In 2005, entrepreneurship students conducted a study for the city of Washington and the Daviess County Commissioners to determine the potential to attract spin-off businesses developed by NSWC Crane researchers as well as create a better economic climate for entrepreneurial development.

Since 1999, Ball State's undergraduate program in entrepreneurship has been consistently ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News & World Report. In 2007, Ball State was the only Indiana college or university listed in all three prominent national rankings by U.S. News & World Report, Entrepreneur/The Princeton Review and Fortune Small Business.

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