Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship





Mantong (Mia) WangDupuis
Jennifer AielloDupuis

Course Description

This is a course about innovation – distinctive ideas, of value, put to practice – and entrepreneurship – the process of putting to practice and sustaining the implementation of innovations – for societal benefit and wealth creation. Curiosity of the world around us is emphasized for identifying opportunities to have an impact and make a difference, to which a discipline is imposed - one that identifies who might be interested in or benefit from our product or service, and how we can bring an idea to fruition and provide the necessary resources (e.g., financial, intellectual) to provide it to society. Legal aspects (e.g., incorporation, partnerships), raising capital, and protecting the strategic advantage of intellectual property (e.g., patents, trade secrets) are discussed, together with the importance of having a social license to operate. The concept of a business model, summarized using the business model canvas methodology, is presented, together with the concept of a business plan describing how a venture will be operated over a time horizon. For-profit and not-for-profit ventures, and the elements of the business models for each, are studied and compared. Financial metrics for assessing the viability of ventures and guiding investment decisions are presented (e.g., IRR, NPV, EBITDA). Systems Thinking (recognizing the whole/parts and that which is common/distinct) is introduced. Design Thinking – a human-centered design emphasizing observation and experimentation gaining traction in engineering, business and social sciences – is presented. Working in groups, students identify a venture opportunity having a technological component, and propose a business model and plan as the major evaluation in the course.  (0/0/42/0/0)

Objectives and Outcomes

This course provides a fundamental understanding of the innovation process, entrepreneurial thinking, business model elements and the financial and market contributors to successful technology-based business opportunities, together with the systems thinking and design thinking approaches as effective means for solving challenges and developing opportunities. Course topics include: elements of a business model, as distinct from a business plan, customer segments with associated value propositions, identifying opportunities, project management skills and intellectual property issues, competitive analysis, raising capital, financial measures of performance for making decisions, identifying and analyzing systems, and applying a design thinking approach to identify solutions and develop ventures.

Specific course learning outcomes include:

  1. Understand the 9 elements of a business model (value propositions, customer segments, channels, key resources, key activities, key partners, cost structure, revenue streams, customer relationships), identify these elements in existing ventures, and differentiate between different contexts:  entrepreneurial versus intrapreneurial; for-profit and not-for-profit.
  2. Recognize customer segments and develop value propositions, and assess and develop markets for products/services.
  3. Investigate existing intellectual property (IP) using appropriate tools, summarize the competitive technology landscape, and determine the appropriate manner for protecting intellectual property.
  4. Manage the development of a product and venture.
  5. Assess the viability of a project or venture using appropriate financial metrics (e.g., NPV, IRR, EBITDA).
  6. Investigate problems and determine solutions using systems and design thinking approaches, in both industrial and societal contexts.
  7. Recognize societal needs in regards to products and services, and develop a social license to operate.

This course assesses the following attributes:

  • Economics and Project Management (CLO 1-7):
    • CHEE-ECO-1 Applies economic considerations, such as capital and operating costs, to design processes. 
    • CHEE-ECO-2  Determines whether a project or venture is economically attractive using cost and benefit estimation, and optimization, using tools such as NPV, and IRR. <financial assignment>
    • CHEE-ECO-3 Assesses project progress and outcome using technical, professional, and other relevant measurements. Applies efficient management of time and resources, including staying within project scope. <3-2-1 assessments for the ventures + final venture pitch>
    • CHEE-ECO-4 Conducts risk analysis of a project, and manages risk for project considering operating performance, operating risk, and financial risk. <sensitivity analysis part of final venture proposal + financial assignment question? >
  • Impact of Engineering (CLO6, 7):
    • CHEE-IM-2 Considers technical, financial, social, environmental, and legal factors, safety and sustainability issues when solving engineering problems. <concept quiz question, final venture proposal>
  • Ethics and Equity (CLO3, 6, 7):
    • CHEE-EE-1 Demonstrates an understanding of intellectual property, copyright, and fair use of copyrighted materials and research data, and follows behaviour consistent with academic integrity and social responsibility. <concept quiz, final project venture>

Relevance to the Program

This course is offered to Chemical Engineering students at the 3rd year level. It develops knowledge on technology and venture development, economics and project management skills that are essential in the design spine, as well as CHEE 400 and are of value to all engineering graduates.

Course Structure and Activities

3 lecture hours + 1 tutorial hour per week.  Please refer to Solus for times and locations.


Lecture slides are posted in advance on the CHEE 310 Learning Management System (LMS). Lectures include venture, product, process and service examples and problem solutions not contained in the posted slides. Students are expected to read associated sections and business case studies provided in the textbook and through the LMS.

Tutorial materials are posted on the LMS. Maximum benefits can be gained only if students come prepared for the tutorial sessions by studying the materials in advance.