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SMU Launching Master’s Of Technology Entrepreneurship And Innovation

Sitting in a coffee shop on the St. Mary’s University campus, Dawn Jutla is almost dwarfed by the stack of pamphlets promoting the new program she is launching – the Master’s of Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

The MTEI program at the Sobey School of Business is an accelerated graduate program that teaches people within organizations or those intent on starting their own businesses how to improve productivity through technical innovation. The program will admit 50 students when it launches in September, and will be the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada and only the third in the country. (The others are at University of Waterloo with 50 students and MacMaster University with 20.)

“Our vision is to stitch together a lot of the efforts already going on around Atlantic Canada,” said Jutla, now a prof in the university’s MBA program. “It’s great that we have so many of these pieces popping up.”

Aspiring entrepreneurs can now go through a traditional MBA program, but it takes two years and involves 20 courses, only some of them dealing with entrepreneurship. The MTEI is accelerated, taking only 16 months, and is more focused on meeting the needs of entrepreneurs and innovators.

The St. Mary’s MTEI program is targeting two groups of people – those interested in rounding out their knowledge of entrepreneurship with the goal of forming a company; and employees of existing companies who could use help to develop innovation and improve productivity within their organization.

The students will start by taking eight courses over eight months, and can then choose one of three paths – a project, a thesis or a work term — to complete the course. Jutla has been building bridges with industry, government and other universities, and hopes to involve the broader community as much as possible.

With the project option, the student conceives and implements something that could be turned into a business, taking it through one of the region’s incubators or accelerators. Jutla has already established links to Innovacorp and the Launch36 accelerator in Moncton, which could help to develop these latent businesses.

Jutla is excited about students writing theses because there is a lack of solid literature about entrepreneurship in the region. There’s lots of material on business formation in other places, she said, but there’s a need to look at the subject while analysing our culture, geographic location, government programs and specific challenges.

In the internship programs, students would work with businesses and be given “master-level tasks” such as launching a new product or writing an innovation strategy.

Given that there are now only 70 places for such programs in Canada, Jutla is hoping to attract students from across the country with the MTEI program. With a limited budget, she is marketing the program across the country, including ads to run on all Empire Theatres screens.

Jutla said Empire Co. has shown great support for the program and she’s hoping other businesses will get behind it.

“We’re taking this program across Canada to bring people into Halifax,” she said. “I want to interest enough people in the private sector that they say, ‘This program is good for the region and I want to help.’”