Innovation Practicum Courses Ready for Virtual Learning

Inside look at the 2020 Innovation Practicum courses for Health and the Environment at the University of Washington's Foster School of BusinessStudents experience it every year at the University of Washington. By enrolling in the Innovation Practicum courses in the Foster School of Business, they come away with a greater understanding of the intersection of creative problem-solving, entrepreneurship, and industry trends. Fall Quarter 2020 will not be any different, even if the medium is for students. We asked the instructors of the Environmental Innovation Practicum (ENTRE 443/543, ENGR 498A, ENVIR 495) and the Health Innovation Practicum (ENTRE 445/545) to give an inside look at the new virtual format for these courses. Their goal is for students to see and hear from those who will be on the other side of the webcam before the quarter starts.

(Reminder: Both courses, as well as the Business Plan Practicum ENTRE 440/540 course in Winter Quarter, are open to students of all disciplines across the University of Washington campus in Seattle)

Health Innovation Practicum More Important Than Ever

“Everyone is trapped at home because there’s this huge health problem,” said instructor Will Canestaro (PhD, Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy ’17) and Managing Director at the Washington Research Foundation. “The necessity of healthcare innovation is clear to people now. I want this class to inspire students to work in that space because we need more high-quality entrepreneurs to go out and find solutions.”

Canestaro, who introduced himself as course instructor back in 2018, said his goal is to take student feedback from the past and use it to inform how the course will operate in the virtual space. That includes innovating how the lecture aspect of the course will be conducted, while placing a greater emphasis on discussion, CEOs and entrepreneurs sharing their experience as guest speakers, and making sure he’s not just  “talking at” students without providing activities and creative content.

Environmental Innovation Practicum Welcomes New Co-Instructor

“We are working really hard to make sure the content is topical,” said new co-instructor Chris Metcalfe (MBA ’15), founder and President of Korvata. “We want students to turn their ideas into a business or be in a position to help an existing company when the time comes.”

Metcalfe was previously a student in the Environmental Innovation Practicum back in Fall Quarter 2013 and learned from long-time instructor Deborah Hagen-Lukens. Now he’ll co-instruct the course alongside her for the first time.

He’s excited to share the experience and connections he’s gained over the years that helped contribute to why the Puget Sound Business Journal named him Innovator of the Year this past February.

Returning to lead the course is Deborah Hagen-Lukens. She has shared with students previously how she approaches the course and why environmental innovation is not just important in her eyes, but a personal mission. In terms of the course being held online, she sees tremendous opportunity.

“We want students to be able to still get to know each other, even in a virtual environment,” said Hagen-Lukens. “We’re also excited to bring in speakers from across the country who don’t have to worry about traveling campus. This quarter we’ll hear from innovators in Massachusetts, Virginia, and elsewhere.”

Entrepreneurial Learning is Open to Students Across Campus

Graduate and undergraduate students across campus can learn how to start (or expand) their academic journey in entrepreneurship by visiting the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurships’ website at startup.uw.edu. Courses for Fall Quarter are filling up fast, including popular entries like the ENTRE 542 Venture Capital Investment Practicum instructed by venture capitalist James Newell (Partner, Voyager Capital).

Graduate students interested in taking that course and others, as well as the Technology Entrepreneurship Certificate program, should contact Buerk Center graduate programs manager Jessica Roberto at [email protected].

Undergraduate students interested in the Entrepreneurship Minor (which includes the incredibly popular Creating a Company course), as well as the Lavin Entrepreneurship program, and others should contact Buerk Center undergraduate programs managers Alex Eli at [email protected].