Interview with Dr. Chris Bauman, Associate Professor and Faculty Director of the Master of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MIE)1 program, University of California (UCI), Irvine.
In a recent interview with IACCM, Dr. Chris Bauman explained UCI’s new Master of Innovation and Entrepreneurship program2 – specifically revealing how three capabilities as an innovator, an entrepreneur, and an intrapreneur are essential for transforming unique ideas into successful results for any type of business including contract management.
As well, UCI students, when asked about their hoped-for futures, often repeated these same terms, saying things like:
- “I seek to be an innovator but how can I do that if I lack hands-on innovation strategies that work?”
- “I want to be an entrepreneur and then build my own business, but how can I generate the unique methods that will impress traditional thinkers?”
- “As an intrapreneur, I would like to write a “convincer” proposal offering solutions critical to our company’s success and growth! But I don’t know how to generate attention or where to start!”
Dr. Bauman’s approach surrounds optimism that ties directly to the influence of contract language within contracting relationships and positive outcomes. Unfortunately, in our world, often addicted to traditional methods, practitioners tend to overlook these skills during contract negotiations.3
And this is one reason why the MIE program was created for students at UCI – to raise their awareness of the need to pull away from tradition that no longer works.
Q Chris, describe the genesis of this new program – how it began and why (the need as you and others saw it).
A The University of California, Irvine (UCI) is in the heart of our Southern Californian ecosystem. As part of UCI and through its partnerships with the business community across the region, UCI’s Paul Merage School of Business2 recognized innovation and entrepreneurship as a strength of the region and an opportunity to serve the community and help grow the ecosystem.
The MIE was created to help ambitious people with ideas about how to solve a problem learn what it takes to transform their ideas into a business.
By the time our students graduate, they will understand the entrepreneurial process, including ideation (creating ideas), formulating a business plan, identifying market segments, assembling talent, and securing funding.
Q How did you become aware of a need or demand (within the student body) for a new program featuring skill development in innovation and entrepreneurship?
A It takes a village to start and grow a program like this. The MIE has been uniquely designed as a partnership between the school and the rich ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship that exists at UCI and across the entire region.
Our partners outside of the classroom are just as invested in this program’s success as those inside it. World-class academics, serial entrepreneurs, and proven innovators in corporate settings. We all saw this need and how it is more necessary now than ever.
Q The UCI website states that your program “provides practical experience for students seeking careers as entrepreneurs (innovating to form new companies) and intrapreneurs (innovating within existing companies).” Can you give an example of what innovation looks like (results – what is being innovated) for both innovating within existing companies versus innovating to form new companies?
A We want to inspire students to think creatively about solving problems. Entrepreneurship is all about identifying problems, unmet needs, or underserved markets, and coming up with solutions to meet those needs.
This can be creating something that doesn’t yet exist, making improvements on current solutions, or other innovative approaches to creating or adding value. One major reason why entrepreneurship (i.e., starting a company) and intrapreneurship (i.e., innovating within an existing company) differ is that these situations include very different barriers to success.
- Entrepreneurs must create a company from the ground up, and having no existing structure or culture to work within can be both a blessing and a curse.
- In contrast, intrapreneurs must navigate the structure and culture of their company and convince others that the development of their ideas, programs, processes, or products is critical to the company’s success and growth.
Our students can fit into either of these buckets -- creating something unique and new, starting their own business, or developing new and innovative solutions within an existing company.
Q The UCI website also states that the program provides students with knowledge on core topics such as the following. Can you briefly cite one example of each?
Identifying new venture opportunities through lean startup methodology
This course follows the “build, measure, learn” methodology as it applies to creating, testing, and iterating on a product, service, or business model. Students will put their ideas to the test and learn how to quickly and effectively create their minimum viable products.
Developing a business model
Our Accelerator Program and New Venture Competition provide students with hands on experiential opportunities outside of the classroom to create and refine their business model based on trial and error, feedback, research, and validation.
Preparing a business plan
Students will be creating their business plan throughout the program in each class they take. In essence, they will create a go to market strategy and marketing plan in their Marketing class. For example, they will build out their financials, balance sheets, and valuation in their Finance and Accounting classes. They will learn what type of company to incorporate, and any Intellectual Property Law (IP) considerations to include in their Business Law course.
Assembling a team
Students have the opportunity to create a venture based on an idea or inspiration they currently have, or they can team up with other students if they are inspired by their concepts. They will learn about how to build a balanced and productive team, about goal setting and tracking, equity considerations, founders’ agreements, and leadership.
Raising the necessary financing including venture capital
Students will gain exposure to financing sources in Orange County, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Silicon Valley. Some sources include venture capitalists, angel investors, banks and lending facilities, and bootstrapping methods like crowdfunding and sales. While students are in the program, they have access to our Student Startup Fund, which offers up to $5,000 in cash to assist in expenses associated with students’ ventures. We have some local angel groups who will be hosting students to sit in on some screening sessions where they will watch entrepreneurs present their pitches to the angels and listen to the deliberations afterward. Additionally, they are offering our MIE students fast-tracked access to pitch to them after graduating from the program.
Launching a new business
We offer so many resources to assist our students in business creation. There are incubators and accelerators with world class talent, mentors with incredible backgrounds and expertise, and a diverse network of alumni entrepreneurs all over the world who are well connected and eager to support a fellow Anteater. Whatever these students need, we can help them find it.
Q What has been the student response so far and what is it looking like for Fall 2019?
A The response has been very positive. We far surpassed our expectations about the number of high-quality applicants we received, but we kept the class size small to ensure that the program delivers on its promise to provide a close-knit, hands-on experience.
Women make up 43% of our incoming class and we have students coming from 25 different top undergraduate institutions from all over the world. The overall diversity and intellectual capital of our incoming students is truly impressive.
We are excited to provide a focused program on innovation and entrepreneurship here at UCI’s Merage School of Business that will add to the robust ecosystem of businesses and startups across Southern California. Given the caliber of our students, I am certain many will launch successful businesses or will assist with innovating within already established companies.
Q What has been your greatest challenge in your role of directing the program?
A The greatest challenge has been creating all of the hands-on sessions that bridge the classroom and practice. We have many more experiential events and activities planned than regular class sessions. This is a new approach to business education and a big departure from the lecture and case discussion method.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Bauman's research addresses how people make sense of and respond to their social environment, including the individuals, groups, and organizations with whom they interact.
One line of his research focuses on how individuals determine issues of ethics and fairness. This work includes studies of individual decision making, workplace diversity, and corporate social responsibility.
Another line of his research examines information processing during negotiations and in contracts and its implications for tactics that can increase individual or mutual gains.
Dr. Bauman’s research has been published in top academic journals, including Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Boston Globe, and Orange County Register.
In his keynote at IACCM’s Americas conference 2019,4 Dr. Bauman discussed how optimism is associated with creativity and how contract language can influence contracting relationships. For example, articulating the positive outcomes two parties might achieve through cooperation sets a very different tone than delineating penalties each party will face if they fail to deliver fully. Economically equivalent safeguards written differently can elicit very different reactions.