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Clean Technology Engineers are Blossoming into Entrepreneurs

Every day, we can see how clean energy is impacting more than just our environment. It’s turned into big business and venture capitalists are eager to find a way to get in on the ground floor and reap the benefits. There’s a problem with this equation however.

All too often, there is a disconnect between the venture capitalists who want to invest, and the engineers who know how to make clean technology even better. By nature, most engineers don’t focus on the business side of things, while on the flip side, business people know next to nothing about engineering.

This has led to the potential for energy entrepreneurs who can combine a background in engineering with some business sense to create the ultimate clean technology company.

“There aren’t nearly enough energy entrepreneurs out there,” says Bill Aulet, an MIT professor who created the course, Energy Ventures. “So what we had to do is start teaching entrepreneurship to engineers.”

Engineering entrepreneurs are becoming more common, thanks to concerted efforts by engineering schools to find ways to better prepare their candidates. These courses are also ensuring that engineers with great ideas are not going to be taken advantage of.

“Not so long ago, if an engineer had a small invention he would just hope that there would be someone on business side that would recognize brilliance and see the application,” says Tim Falley, the managing director of Michigan’s Zell-Lurie Institute. “Most of the time, it would have died right there.”

“What we try to do in terms of the course is to give them the sense that there is a structure in place for how to present your ideas,” says Margaret Neale, a professor in Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, and SIE instructor. “We give them a framework for how to approach business situations.”

Engineering students interested in clean technology are being encouraged to take advantage of these courses. While business may not be their first choice, it helps to have more knowledge in how to work with investors — particularly for innovative engineers with great potential to make it big in this industry.

With the right preparation, engineers can turn this new market into a win-win situation for themselves, the general public and venture capitalists. “Engineers need to understand that the best technology does not win – the best application wins,” says MIT’s Aulet. “They need to think very early on about whether something will create value in the real world.”

Do you have a question about how clean technology is impacting the engineering job market? Ask the experts at Solopoint today!