New York University is embracing destruction and disruption.
Its Stern School of Business is slated next year to launch a “Creative Destruction Lab” — a venture program that will bring in early-stage science and technology-based startups to learn how to commercialize their products. It will be the first of its kind in the country, according to school officials.
About 25 startups from around New York City will have the opportunity to work on their business models over the course of nine months, from September to May. The startups will then be assigned mentors from across NYU who will provide technical assistance to the developers in areas like artificial intelligence, machine learning and medical devices.
“Very few investors have a deep experience or knowledge that is required to assess startups in this space,” said Deepak Hegde, director of the Creative Destruction Lab and professor in both the master’s and doctoral programs at Stern.
“When you have complex science and technology [startups], it’s hard for them to talk directly with an investor,” he added.
Along with science mentors, the startups will also receive help from Stern graduate students, “to do the work necessary to convert science and technology ideas into a successful business,” Hegde said.
The graduate students will provide assistance for credit. They will take a two-semester class taught by Hegde, learning about the specific cases and how to help the startups develop.
There will also be early-stage venture capitalists involved, sitting in on meetings and — NYU hopes — providing funding to the startups.
“They will be drawn from the broader New York City region, and for venture capitalists, the big thing they generally look for is a great idea,” said Hegde. “But they also look for great people who can convert ideas into viable business.”
He said the program “creates a larger ecosystem that brings together very skilled, successful entrepreneurs, investors, MBA students and startups with science and technology ideas together on one platform.”
“Information is very scant on how to convert technology into dollars,” he said. “There are accelerators, there are other market mechanisms available to help these companies, but not the deep science and technology-based ideas. Universities are uniquely in the position to provide the experience to translate science and technology ideas into viable products.”
Hegde said business school students also benefit because “right now there are very few things in the curriculum that give them the hands-on experience working at a startup.”
“We hope that many of our MBAs will actually become employees at the startups that they get to work with,” he said. “So those are some of the concrete benefits that they’ll get.”
The Creative Destruction Lab will be funded through corporate partners and the venture capitalists, since the school is providing them with a service by screening and bringing startups to them. The school is not charging the startups.
Raghu Sundaram, vice dean for MBA Programs and Online Learning at NYU, said the creation of the lab signals a deep commitment to entrepreneurship education.
The goal is to be “a hub that matches inspired ideas with the expertise to scale and commercialize them — and develop MBA students in the process who may want to follow a similar entrepreneurial path in the future,” Sundaram said.
The concept for the lab originated at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Applications will be accepted from startups beginning January 1, 2018.
Hegde said he’s hoping the Creative Destruction Lab puts NYU at the center of disruption happening in several fields.
“Technology is disrupting industries like finance and publishing, and we think it’s part of a long-run disruption that’s happening,” he said. “Like Stanford is for Silicon Valley, we want to make NYU for the New York City region.”