Innovation from collaboration: Familiar with the UMN’s top-ranked biomedical engineering program and with a belief that collaboration drives innovation, ETHICON, a Johnson & Johnson med tech company, reached out to the Corporate Engagement Center to explore a new product partnership.
A real-world challenge: Guided by ETHICON R&D staff, a team of top UMN students from the College of Science and Engineering, the Carlson School of Management, and the College of Design worked for nine months on the development of a new device for treating a circulatory system disorder.
One of many opportunities: The project was part of the University’s New Product Design and Business Development (NPDBD) course, which connects students with businesses in a learning experience that benefits both. Other opportunities engage statistics students to bring frontline statistical skills to corporate projects; bring business students on board to address specific challenges; and involve food, agricultural, and natural resource sciences students in developing new products and sales plans or leadership development programs for employees.
“We can help to translate some of the things the client says, help students figure out what’s important, and what’s not so important. We want to both make sure the students learn and that value is returned to the company, so we figure out how to help reach both goals.”
Professor and Director of Design Education in the
College of Science and Engineering, and NPDBD coach
A win-win: Companies participating in the NPDBD and some other experiential learning courses sponsor the program to help offset the cost of administering the collaboration. Through the collaboration, both entities share knowledge, uncover new insights and develop the students’ early-career enthusiasm—not to mention opening the door for prospective future career opportunities.
“The output was exceptional in terms of the work the students accomplished.The University’s NPDBD program helps foster new concepts; it offers a fresh perspective on market analysis in terms of competitive products and the students are experiencing how to develop a product all the while. It’s a win-win for the company and the University of Minnesota.”
R&D Sr. Director, External Front End Innovation, ETHICON