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Celebrating Success In Technology, Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Program

Something is going very right in the Department of Management, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, where professor of technology management Steve H. Barr recently won a prestigious new award for his contributions to the Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (TEC) program

Barr can add the Alumni Association Distinguished Graduate Professorship Award to his shelf alongside the other awards from the past year: the Department of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Outstanding Teaching Award, the Poole College of Management Outstanding Teaching Award, the NC State Outstanding Teaching Award and the Alumni Association Outstanding Teaching Award.

The Alumni Association award primarily recognizes graduate student outcomes—in the case of TEC, more than 500 student graduates of the program, over 25 new business startups employing over 400 people, and $700 million raised by these startups. “It was humbling to be set forward for this recognition, let alone win it,” says Barr. “But it was most gratifying to see the selection committee appreciate the accomplishments of our students.”

After joining the Poole College of Management in 1995, Barr chaired the Department of Business Management and the Department of Management, Innovation & Entrepreneurship for a decade when the opportunity to pivot to TEC presented itself. “At the time, I thought that this program could have an enormous impact on the journey from patent to market,” he remembers. “I turned out to be right.” 

A team effort

Barr is quick to redirect praise for his recent accolades to the other members of the TEC team, particularly Lisa Chang, director of TEC. While Barr focuses primarily on developing and delivering instructional materials, Chang carries most of the responsibility for recruiting and managing executives-in-residence as well as sourcing and vetting the technologies that TEC students use to bring a viable startup to life or engineer a technological breakthrough within an existing company. 

Together, Barr and Chang employ a student support-based model of teaching to guide students through a weekly three-hour class. There are no exams or quizzes—just pitches, reports, and other staples of a startup environment. “We don’t hang out behind the podium,” explains Chang. “Our goal is to make everything we teach usable and relatable for individuals.” She has nothing but praise for her colleague’s dedication to his students. “In addition to being an engaging lecturer, Steve drives a lot of miles and invests a lot of hours into each student’s development, and they can sense that,” she affirms.   

For the first half of every class period, students learn from Barr and Chang. For the second half, they meet with the TEC executives-in-residence, a group of entrepreneurs and business leaders who generously invest their time and energy in shepherding student teams through the product development process. “Through integrating the insights of our executives-in-residence, Steve does an exemplary job of bridging the gap between academic content and practical implementation,” says Jon Carr, head of the Department of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

‘Think and Do’ in action

Much like a chemistry student can only get so far without a laboratory, a student of entrepreneurship can only get so far without diving into the practical elements of making a business idea come to life. “In our program, student lab time is spent with executives-in-residence,” says Barr. “They will only ever learn by doing.” 

Barr can produce a long list of TEC graduates who parlayed their experience into a successful startup or innovation within an existing company. Immediately after graduation, for example, alumnus Scott Bolin (MBA’12) founded a company called Tethis, which successfully pioneered a more efficient way to treat and transport water used in fracking processes.

Barr also points to the founders of Locus BioSciences, a biopharmaceutical company that has discovered a way to use gene-editing technology to combat drug-resistant bacterial infections. “That company has raised more than $30 million since its launch, and it all started in a three-credit class in the TEC program,” says Barr. 

Another TEC-based startup, LipoScience, was recently sold to Lab Corp for $85 million. “What our students have accomplished in terms of job creation, funds raised, and businesses created goes beyond any other program I have seen in this region of the country. I’m just proud to be a part of the team that makes it all possible.” 

The Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (TEC) certificate program provides students with a proven approach to evaluating technologies and bringing technology innovations to market. For more information, visit https://mba.ncsu.edu/academics/certificate-programs/tec-certificate.

This post was originally published in Poole College of Management News.