MBA students will take research to market at new DeGroote Clinic

“Research that could improve and even save human lives is often just waiting to be developed,” says DeGroote Assistant Professor Goran Calic, left.

“Research that could improve and even save human lives is often just waiting to be developed,” says Goran Calic, left. "That’s where DeGroote comes in.”

What’s the best way to take a promising research idea to market? Hand it to a bunch of ambitious, highly skilled MBA candidates and let them run with it.

Opening in January at DeGroote’s Ron Joyce Centre, the Clinic will help with the commercialization of McMaster’s vast repository of research.

It’s the first site in what will become an interconnected network in Southern Ontario.

“Operationally, it will function like a startup interested in finding great investment opportunities,” says DeGroote assistant professor Goran Calic.

Calic, who came to DeGroote from Purdue University in 2016, will use his expertise in strategic management, mathematical modelling and computer science to serve in a leadership role at the new space.

Participating MBA candidates will search for work that offers great social or economic value, Calic says. They will bring their findings to a panel of clinic members to debate and vote on. If the majority votes for an idea, the process can move ahead.

Once a project has been green-lit, the expertise of DeGroote MBA candidates will kick in, as students help transform the research into a viable business.

The Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine will help identify potential projects with a medical focus, but research from any faculty at McMaster will be eligible for development at the Clinic. Business students will be encouraged to follow their passion.

“Research that could improve and even save human lives is often just waiting to be developed,” Calic says. “Right now, this process is serendipitous and unplanned. It happens by accident, and only rarely. That’s where DeGroote comes in.”

The business end of the process will take shape through weekly meetings with a faculty member, as well as bi-monthly meetings with a governing board of entrepreneurs, faculty members, and investors.

There will be no lectures offered, and faculty will act as mentors and facilitators. MBA candidates will be able to sharpen their skills in finance, marketing, negotiating, and other core business areas, while helping launch a potentially world-changing business from the ground up.

With more business students embracing entrepreneurship as a career path, a gap remains when it comes to preparing them to enter the workforce, Calic explains.

The Clinic will allow MBA candidates to practise hands-on learning, while also introducing them to the economic risks and rewards of entrepreneurship, he says.

Participation will take the form of an experiential learning credit, and success will be measured by the free market, not an instructor.

“DeGroote continues to support the intersection of research and experiential learning, and that’s really important to me,” says Calic. “I’m proud to help the school launch a space like the Clinic, and I’m eager to see what our MBA candidates can do.”

Clinic locations are also being established at the McMaster University Medical Centre and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. The three Clinic sites will be linked electronically, with a target completion date of September 2019.

Learn more about The Clinic and other iniatives at the DeGroote School of Business here.

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