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Shuttle 10-08-08


UMass Lowell Shuttle, UMass Publication Staff

October 8, 2008

The Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center, or M2D2, works with entrepreneurs around the state to help develop ideas into new products with the guidance of experts from UMass Lowell and UMass Medical Center.

But faculty and researchers aren’t the only ones lending their expertise to M2D2. Thanks to a new partnership launched last semester by Asst. Prof. Steve Tello, College of Management students are bringing their skills to the program to determine whether ideas for new medical devices meet key criteria, including whether there’s a medical need, market niche and sound science behind the proposals.

Tello, who teaches management and entrepreneurship courses, says he pitched the idea because he felt “this would be a nice place to give students a look at real-world commercialization and assist M2D2. “I want my students to be able to apply what they learn,” he says.

“The real-world experience gained by our students working on the medical devices projects is invaluable. You simply can’t get it from a textbook,” says College of Management Dean Kathryn Carter. “Our goal is to continually increase the number of these experiential learning opportunities for our students.” Tello first called on Meagan Smith of Groton, then a senior majoring in business management and a student in his “Managing Innovation” course, to develop a system to research those criteria and others to determine product ideas’ chances of success. As the business scans increased, Tello asked MBA candidate Joseph Finch to join Smith on the project.

The information gathered through the business scans is reviewed byM2D2’s advisory commitcommittee— made up of industry professionals,venture capital firm representatives and economic and technology development experts—as part of its determination whether a startup will get the program’s support in developing an idea into a real product.

“I think it was a great last milestone in my college education,” says Smith. “This just helps you pull it all together and pull it into the real world.”

Finch says the M2D2 project was a great real-world experience for him after his academic work, and he believes it makes his MBA more marketable.

Plastics Engineering Prof. Steve McCarthy, co-director of M2D2, says having the students work with M2D2 is valuable for entrepreneurs,too.

“It helps our startups because a lot of them are inventors (who) don’t have business experience,” McCarthy says. “These students are able to give them the knowledge about markets and competition that they couldn’t have gotten otherwise.”

Although Finch and Smith graduated in May, the partnership between the College of Management and M2D2 continues. This semester, Tello’s “Innovation and Emerging Technologies” class for MBA students has taken over the business scans.