Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship



James McLellanDupuis 316james.mclellan@queensu.ca613-533-2785


Maryam Ghazizade

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 bring 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 acceptance 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, along with similarities and contrasts between intra- and entrepreneurship. Financial metrics for assessing the viability of ventures and guiding investment decisions are presented. Systems Thinking (recognizing the whole/parts and that which is common/distinct) is introduced. Design Thinking – a human-centered design emphasizing observation and insight - is presented, along with journey maps and personas for understanding customer segments. 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, intra- and 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 identifying and developing opportunities, and solving challenges. Course topics include: elements of a  business model, as distinct from a business plan, customer segments with associated value propositions,  journey maps and personas, 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. Design business models using the business model canvas framework
  2. Develop customer segments and associated value propositions
  3. Develop market strategies for products/services
  4. Protect the strategic advantage of intellectual property (e.g. patents, trade secrets)
  5. Manage the development of a product and venture
  6. Assess the viability of a project or venture using appropriate financial metrics (e.g. NPV, IRR, EBITDA)
  7. Solve problems using systems and design thinking approaches, in both industrial and societal contexts
  8. Develop a social acceptance to operate for ventures

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. <financial assignment + final venture proposal>
  • 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 proposal>
  • 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 >

Impact of Engineering (CLO6, 7):

  • CHEE-IM-2 Considers technical, financial, social, environmental, and legal factors, safety and sustainability issues when solving engineering problems. < 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. <final project venture>

Relevance to the Program

Course Structure and Activities

Blended course format delivery, with significant online content including videos. Nominally 3 lecture hours + 1 tutorial hour per week.  Please refer to Solus for times and locations.


This course represents a study period of one semester spanning 12 consecutive weeks. Learners can expect to invest on average 2 hours per week online in this course and on about 2 hours per week in class, plus 3 hours of independent study. Lecture times will be used for emphasis / discussion of material, guest lectures, and detailed case studies. Learners who adhere to a pre-determined study schedule are more likely to successfully complete the course on time.