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On Tuesday of this week, SAP’s Vice President of Design Michael Brown joined me on campus to help conclude the exciting new course in design called “Collaborative Product Development” (CPD).  As part of our partnership with Notre Dame, we agreed to collaborate on teaching the advanced CPD course this semester.  The design challenge was about the future of wearable technology in the enterprise human resources domain.  Michael made several visits during the semester to help coach and provide feedback to students as they prepared the final project presentations for venture capital firms.  The students used a Design Thinking approach to the challenge and the course was taught by Ann-Marie Conrado. The course description is as follows:

• As part of an exciting new initiative, the Collaborative Innovation program highlighting design thinking, a powerful approach for solving real-world problems, the capstone Collaborative Product Development course is a unique experience gathering students in anthropology, business, design and engineering to work and collaborate together on a real-world brief sponsored by an outside corporation. Students work in teams to conceive and develop solutions that address a myriad of needs from the perspectives of users, business and technology in conjunction with feedback from outside sponsors and mentors while learning to collaborate with students of other disciplines in order to develop concepts that are greater than any single discipline can offer. Students explore the mechanics of collaboration while investigating the methodology of design thinking. We are excited to announce that the Fall 2015 course will be sponsored by SAP, the world’s foremost enterprise software company and presented to a star panel of Silicon Valley venture capitalists at the end of the semester. Students are being asked to explore the power of wearables to bring data on demand and reinvent software interaction in the enterprise space. IT Management students will join their peers in Anthropology (consumer insight), Interaction Design (UX design), Industrial Design (product design), and Computer Science (Programming) to conceive, develop and execute a working prototype and present to SAP and venture capitalists.

Three student teams presented final projects to a distinguished panel of venture capital investors and Notre Dame leaders listed here.

• Tom Crotty - a venture capitalist for over 30 years, including a dozen years as Managing Partner of Battery Ventures, has exceptional experience in successfully working with technology growth companies. During his career, Tom has led investments in dozens of early stage companies to position Battery Ventures as one of the industry's premier venture firms.

• Tracy Graham - Founder and Managing Principal of Graham Allen Partners. Graham Allen Partners is a private holding company focused on the incubation of early-stage, high-growth technology businesses. Mr. Graham has 15 years of executive level experience in the technology industry and has led more than $80 million in technology related acquisitions and divestitures.

• Gary Gigot - Gary is the co-founder and CEO of Vennli.  Gary has experience with SaaS companies (e.g. Sesame Communications, Docusign) and prior experience as an investor and board member of Aprimo, the leading marketing management software company. His operating experience includes marketing leadership at Microsoft (VP, Marketing) and Visio (CMO) as well as 16 years in the advertising industry.

• David Murphy - Associate Dean of Entrepreneurship for the Colleges of Science and Engineering, as well as faculty member and Director of the ESTEEM (Engineering, Science, Technology, and Entrepreneurship Excellence Master’s) Graduate Program at the University of Notre Dame, having assumed these responsibilities in November of 2011.  ESTEEM is the first interdisciplinary, inter-college graduate degree program in the history of the University of Notre Dame and provides STEM-educated talent with an unparalleled opportunity to learn the business and innovation skills they need to commercialize research, launch a start-up and learn to think –and act - entrepreneurially.

• John McGreevy - As dean of the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame, McGreevy is responsible for the overall vision and strategy of the College. He oversees both the academic core and the support structure of the College. The dean oversees the University’s programs in the Division of the Arts, the Division of the Humanities, and the Division of the Social Sciences; appoints and oversees associate deans and the chairpersons of 20 departments as well as selected directors and support staff; and supports and evaluates the teaching and research of faculty members.

The teams presented three outstanding human resources technology business concepts.  We were very pleased that members of the panel are seriously considering investing in one or more of these entrepreneurial ventures.

• Bloom – A new approach to individual and team performance management.

• Vibe – An integrated platform for improving productivity and communication in the workplace.

• Emotiv – A comprehensive employee wellness solution.

Quotes about the event: “Good stuff today Don. Project outcomes were terrific and the presentations were very professional. We need more of this type of learning experience. Congratulations.” – Director of Entrepreneurship Center

“The SAP projects were very well done and more than illustrated the potential of this course. As always, the students at Notre Dame never cease to impress with what they are capable of.” – Outside company Manufacturing Engineer

“It was great to see, and really helps to illustrate some of the opportunities in front of us if we work together.  It was very clear that there were elements there that wouldn't have been present if say, it were just engineering students working alone.” – Computer Science Professor

“I enjoyed it greatly -- very impressive, and fun to think about how this process can work not only for "products" but for other outcomes in the "social innovation" world -- policies, programs, etc.” - Global Affairs Professor

“It was terrific fun to see the presentations this morning and inspiring to witness the infectious enthusiasm of the students. Thanks for your leadership and persistence in getting us this far; exciting! I'm confident design/innovation will be one of the big success stories at Notre Dame in the coming years.” – Dean of Arts & Letters