Bison Ventures are elective activities that focus the creativity and technological expertise of students towards innovation, invention and entrepreneurialism. Numerous Bison Ventures are active at any one time, and the topics are as broad as the collective imaginations of the students and faculty involved. All, however, are working on advanced ideas that are directed towards invention of new products, innovation in engineering processes and commercialization of laboratory research. While not every venture fully realizes the ultimate pinnacle of the founding of a new company or the patenting of a new product or process, these targets are always in view.
Within the IME Department, Bison Ventures are founded and pursued on both long-term and short-term bases.
- Long-term ventures generally arise from a combination of faculty and student initiative to explore a somewhat focused technological topic. These ventures tend to take a very fundamental technological viewpoint and to involve fairly extended research effort. “Long-term” means that the venture spans several years, and may be open-ended in time. The Bison Microventure is one such activity. This project was started in August 2007 and is on-going.
- Short-term ventures are usually partnerships between students, a supervising faculty and a company sponsor. These partnerships are usually tightly focused on development of a new product, a new process or both. Most often, the sponsoring company will have definite ideas about bringing a new product to market within the near term. Partnership projects of this sort are generally conducted on a contractual basis, with the sponsor providing funding for all out-of-pocket expenses incurred in product and process development, plus a small surcharge. “Short-term” generally means that the project objectives are crafted to be achieved within one year. The Telepharmacy Workstation Design project is an example of this type of venture.
Regardless of the timeline, Bison Ventures projects mentored within the IME Department are primarily student learning experiences. The prime purposes are that students learn skills and competencies in translating ideas into commercial products and that they acquire deep understanding of the technologies involved. Students gain elective credit for these ventures, as well as proportional ownership of the outcomes -- should any products or processes of real commercial value result.