Since 1995, the High Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Program (HiTEC) has been teaching scientists, engineers and managers how to translate science and technology into goods and services. Using the HiTEC Algorithm, a process developed from a National Science Foundation/Kenan Institute research grant, HiTEC has been building new high-tech, high growth companies while training the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
In academia, our process and pedagogy have been benchmarked and exported to the UK, Portugal, Slovenia, South Korea, South Africa as well as Brown, Ohio State and Cal Poly universities in the U.S. In the business world, HiTEC is credited with supporting the formation of over 50% of the companies arising from North Carolina State University (NCSU).
Aims and Methods
Our goal is to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs while building the high growth companies of tomorrow. MBAs are teamed with graduate science and engineering students to build and launch – whenever possible – real high growth, technology-based ventures. Each team is provided a portfolio of available IP and has at least two outside business advisors or “Executives-in-Residence,” including serial entrepreneurs, CEOs, lawyers, accountants, and consultants.
The mapped process at the heart of the HiTEC experience is called the ‘Algorithm.’ This is the tool that separates HiTEC from other High-Tech Entrepreneurship courses. The Algorithm provides a process based framework for building viable startup companies from technological innovations. Issues that are both knowable and discerning at each phase in the development cycle are revealed and addressed in a rational manner. This detailed methodology permits the inexperienced entrepreneur to develop a compelling business case for his/her technology.
In 1994, Angus Kingon, a world-class Materials Scientist from the College of Engineering, and Steve Markham, a serial entrepreneur from the Poole College of Management, won almost a million dollars in grants from the National Science Foundation and the Kenan Institute of Technology, Science and Engineering to study technology commercialization and develop tools to teach scientists and engineers how to commercialize their discoveries.
The HiTEC Program began teaching courses based on their research in 1995 to graduate students from both colleges. It was apparent from the beginning that the best way to develop the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to be successful, was to provide an intense experiential learning opportunity for the students. The resulting pedagogy offers not only a rich context to their studies, but also provides the potential to participate in a real high growth startup company.
HiTEC would not be possible without support from both the College of Engineering and the Poole College of Management. The intellectual property used in the course comes from the offices of technology transfer at NC State University, Eastern Carolina University, Universities of North Carolina at Charlotte and Chapel Hill. Over the years, we have also used IP from more than a dozen local R&D facilities located in the Research Triangle Park and beyond.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we would not be able to deliver the quality educational experience and maintain the expectations of continuing success without our Executives-in-Residence. Since 1995, more than 80 serial entrepreneurs, service providers and professionals have volunteered thousands of hours to help mentor the HiTEC teams.
Since its inception, the TEC Program has taught over 450 graduate students, been primarily responsible for the creation of new high tech ventures and lines of business employing over 400 people, and assisted more than forty companies that have attracted over $200,000,000 in capital.
The HiTEC program is regularly benchmarked as a leader in technology commercialization education by universities around the world. Our international efforts were recognized by the Roundtable on Entrepreneurship Education at Stanford when they bestowed the 2006 Price Foundation award on us for our work in Portugal.
We have three areas of ongoing challenges. First, though we have an extensive network of executives and service providers in the local entrepreneurial community, finding seasoned leaders for the new ventures we generate every year is a daunting task. Second, seed stage funding remains elusive. Finally, our department within the College of Management has undergone several changes over the past 5 years and the result has left us fewer faculty and we are therefore behind in research output.
All our activities are self-funded. We share in the royalties from one of the companies we launched. The remaining resources we have are the result of a combination of grants and gifts. The faculty have also shared consulting fees with the HiTEC program.