Stimulating Environmental Solutions through Strategic and Technological Innovation
While the environmental challenges facing the world today can seem daunting, they present tremendous opportunities for eco-entrepreneurs who have the training to advance an innovation along a trajectory that leads from science to solutions. Never has the market been so ready to accept innovative business and technical solutions, and never has a graduate curriculum offered innovators such a complete package of essential tools for success.
In collaboration with the highly regarded Technology Management Program (TMP) at the UCSB College of Engineering, the Bren School launched the nation's first program of study in eco-entrepreneurship (Eco-E) in 2007.
Eco-E promotes innovation of environmental products, services, and technology transfer. In this program, graduate students learn how to move environmental solutions from concepts to market for their personal and financial benefit, as well as for the betterment of the environment. Students may supplement any of the seven Bren MESM specializations with formal Eco-E coursework known as the Eco-E focus. Students also may choose to put Eco-E concepts into practice through an Eco-E Project.
Addressing serious environmental and natural-resource problems requires ingenuity, agile thinking, and entrepreneurship. To ensure successful adoption of a new environmental solution, eco-entrepreneurs need to understand how to build a viable business model, create a strategy for market adoption, and navigate governmental policy. Through their Eco-E collaboration, the Bren School and TMP are expanding and promoting environmental entrepreneurship and technology transfer in a new way. Eco-E links innovation with the environment by providing entrepreneurial training and support for the launch of socially valuable new ventures. The Eco-E focus offers students opportunities to develop concepts for new ventures, conduct customer-discovery research, and develop business models that serve market needs and help solve complex environmental problems.
The Eco-E focus consists of a 10-unit series of primary Eco-E courses at the Bren School and at least 4 units of Eco-E electives at the Bren School and TMP. To complete the Eco-E focus, Bren students enroll in the fall quarter in Introduction to Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation (ESM 256A) to generate ideas, recognize potential opportunities that address environmental problems, develop initial concepts and begin to engage in customer research. In winter quarter, students enroll in New Venture Opportunity Analysis (ESM 256B) to develop the analytical and conceptual skills required to assess the feasibility of a new venture opportunity by searching for a customer problem-solution-environment fit. In spring quarter, students in the Eco-E focus take New Venture Formation (ESM 402A) to develop and test their business models through continued customer research.
In addition to these primary Eco-E courses, students also take at least 4 units of electives to supplement their training. Elective coursework may be taken at the Bren School or in TMP. Bren courses within the Eco-E focus address strategic planning for nonprofit ventures, survey-research design, and environmental markets. TMP courses address business strategy and leadership skills, managing for innovation, entrepreneurial marketing, new-venture finance, managing operations, and new product development.
Together, the Bren School and TMP are developing environmental entrepreneurship and technology transfer as effective ways of addressing critical environmental and resource problems. With their unique interdisciplinary perspective, Eco-E students are well prepared to create new ventures to solve the most important environmental problems of our time.
Students must take at least 4 units of Eco-E electives to supplement the primary coursework for the Eco-E focus. Eco-E electives include:
*Course requirement for the Graduate Program in Management Practice (GPMP) certificate offered by the Technology Management Program.
Several electives for the Eco-E focus also are part of the curriculum for the Graduate Program in Management Practice (GPMP), a UC-recognized certificate offered by the Technology Management Program. Eco-E students at the Bren School may take a few additional classes to earn the GPMP certificate. The GPMP requires 16 units of coursework and also requires that students practice the concepts they have learned by participating in either an internship (160 hours in a management role) or the New Venture Competition.
MESM students have the option to complete either a Master’s Group Project or an Eco-E Project to fulfill core requirements. The Eco-E Project prepares students for careers as solution-oriented environmental entrepreneurs who can identify opportunities where market demands overlap environmental solutions. Students who complete an Eco-E Project will develop a business model, build a prototype concept, and create a go-to-market strategy for a new environmental venture.
Eco-E Project Goals
Bren MESM students who wish to submit a proposal for an Eco-E Project must enroll in New Venture Opportunity Analysis (ESM 256B) during the winter quarter of their first year in order to complete an opportunity analysis or “feasibility study.”
Students engaged in an Eco-E Project are encouraged to supplement their Eco-E Project coursework with the GPMP coursework offered by TMP during the spring quarter of their first year and the fall quarter of their second year.
Students who complete Eco-E Projects must participate in the Bren Net Impact New Venture Competition and the UCSB New Venture Competition hosted by TMP during the winter of their second year. These two events give students experience pitching new ventures in a competitive setting and provide potential opportunities for real funding.
We are indebted to the members of the Eco-Entrepreneurship Advisory Council, who guide, promote and support eco-entrepreneurial education at the Bren School.