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NUvention: Nano's Inaugural Class Gives Final Presentations

eLucid team presents their business idea for a thin-film technology.Students in the inaugural NUvention: Nanotechnology class delivered their final presentations Tuesday, December 10, in the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center after spending a quarter determining viable business models for technologies developed by Northwestern faculty.

Twenty-two students were admitted into the first NUvention: Nanotechnology class in Fall 2013. As the Farley Center's director, Mike Marasco, explained on presentation day, the class was an experiment and a learning process for not only students, but faculty members as well.

Unlike other NUvention courses, NUvention: Nano students crafted business models for technology from Northwestern faculty rather than their own innovations. Interdisciplinary student teams formulated ideas with market value from basic lab research.

Students divided into four teams to intensely research opportunities to commercialize technologies involving water treatment, thin-film displays, therapeutics, and product packaging.

"I know they only had a quarter to put this all together, but … the diversity of the types of technologies and the markets they were looking at as well as the quality of the work and presentation … was quite impressive," said Brendan Florez, a judge of the final group presentations and the vice president of business development at a materials startup spun out of Northwestern: Polyera.

Although not all teams will continue pursuing business ideas worked on in the course, students are ending the quarter with a broader view of how to bring new technologies to market.

'Throughout the ten weeks of the course, we really have a better idea now as to how we would approach a startup in terms of the structure and organizing," said Christopher Ryder, a third year PhD student who took the course. "And, we have a much better idea of what market segments we're looking at."

Farley Center director Mike Marasco hopes the students also gained something more from the course.

"What's most important about a class like this in my mind is not what we all do, but what happens outside of class, the relationships that you've built," he said. "And my hope is that those relationships stay with you." 

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