Slot 4

Technology-based Entrepreneurship
Geoff Gregson, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, Canada


The objective of this course is to engage participants in a lively and informative discussion on creating value through innovative ideas, technologies, entrepreneurial initiative and enterprise. The course will cover lean-start-up lessons that include how to integrate powerful customer insights with actionable data, rapid experimentation, minimum viable product development and business model optimization. We will also explore how to develop and sell new kinds of product to a market that does not yet exist. Participants will have the chance to reflect upon their own entrepreneurial motivations and aspirations as we discuss market opportunities arising from new technologies, digital media and evolving business and consumer trends.

Session 1: Introduction to Tech-based Entrepreneurship
This session will discuss key concepts of technology-based entrepreneurship, which include opportunity identification, ideation, types of innovation (e.g. product, service, process) and the role of the entrepreneur/team in new knowledge creation and exploitation. We will also discuss different markets for innovation and discuss how industry architecture influences opportunities for component solutions versus complete solutions.

Session 2: Validating Ideas & Transforming Technologies for Market Application
Because technology advances create ongoing opportunities, the entrepreneur is not required to be the original innovator or the industry leader; although being ‘first-mover’ is advantageous under certain conditions. In this session, we will discuss proven methods for validating innovative ideas for their market potential, and examine key processes for transforming technology solutions into market products/services. Here, we consider different pathways and strategies for creating value from new technologies, including the creation and protection of intellectual property.

Session 3: Business Models
A common cause of business failure amongst technology entrepreneurs relates to a weak or ill-conceived business model rather than problems with technology. In this session, we discuss the lean business model and its key components, which include what value the technology offers, key customers, channels to customers, pricing and costs, key partners, business activities, customer relations and resource requirements. Within this discussion, we examine the pros and cons of developing a minimal viable product in attempting to validate the business model. A lean business model canvas will be provided to each participant to develop his or her own ideas.

Session 4: Entrepreneurial Marketing and Enterprise Development
A key lesson from successful digital media and IT enterprises is redefining existing markets by altering product categories - while focusing on particular customer needs and requirements. This session will discuss how to deploy impactful marketing methods for new products and how to sell a new kind of product to a market that does not yet exist. The session then focuses on core processes for building a technology-based enterprise, which highlights lessons from successful (and unsuccessful) cases. The session concludes with an overall course summary.


Geoff Gregson is an academic entrepreneur with extensive international experience in teaching and practicing entrepreneurship. He has started up and managed businesses in a diverse range of sectors, including ICT, digital media, tourism and sport science. He is currently Chairman of Axienta Ltd., an enterprise mobility company based in Malaysia and Sri Lanka and is a Board member of JB Equity, a Hong Kong-based private equity firm.

Geoff was a Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship Research at the University of Edinburgh between 2005 and 2014, where he managed a portfolio of UK-based and international research projects. Geoff also taught and developed new programs on entrepreneurship, technology management, innovation leadership and new venturing, while working with enterprises across a number of technology sectors. He co-founded the Edinburgh Entrepreneurship Club, which has become Scotland’s largest e-club.

Geoff currently holds the JR Shaw Chair in New Venture and Entrepreneurship at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, Canada. He is a Visiting Researcher at the Institute for the Study of Science, Technology & Innovation at the University of Edinburgh and was previously a Visiting Professor at EADA Business School in Barcelona, Spain. Geoff holds degrees from the University of Edinburgh (PhD, LLM, MSc), University of Calgary (MBA) and the University of Alberta (BPE).

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