Dr. Stephanie Marie Schwartz

Dr. Stephanie Marie Schwartz

Grant Title

Software Productization Center at Millersville University

Faculty Involved

Dr. Stephanie Elzer
Dr. Patrick McCaskey, Business
Dr. Theresa Russell-Loretz, Communications & Theater
Nancy Mata, Art/Graphic Design

Timeframe

January 1, 2008 - January 1, 2011

Funding Agency

PASSHE

Amount

$182,541

Extra Information


www.millersville.edu/spc


Abstract

Historically, the Lancaster and Harrisburg region has been a hotbed for some major entrepreneurs, including people who have played key roles in activities such as the advent of the internet, web browser development, and the launch of MapquestTM. However, despite their local roots, regional entrepreneurs-particularly those focusing on computer-related inventions and technological advances-generally have had to look outside of our region for assistance with translating their discoveries from the workbench to the market. Herein we propose creation of the Millersville University (MU) Computer Software Productization Center (CSPC), the launch of which would meet a critical regional need for assistance in translating cutting-edge software applications into highly marketable off-the-shelf products. To our knowledge, this university-housed CSPC would be the first of its kind in the Commonwealth and one of the first in the nation. Universities are uniquely positioned to offer invaluable assistance with this type of software productization for at least two reasons: 1) availability of faculty with expertise pertinent to all stages of this process, including computer programming, graphic design, public relations, and marketing and 2) access to student workers who together constitute a deep pool of inexpensive but highly invested laborers with an intense desire for real-life internship experiences. Funding for this project would enable MU to consult with local experts and business stakeholders and build the infrastructure required to operate a highly efficient CSPC. If funded, this project would uniquely position MU and, by extension, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), as a regional and national leader in offering software productization services to entrepreneurs (including faculty members engaged in software-focused research).

The term software productization refers to the process of turning a rudimentary software concept or early prototype into a marketable product. The Millersville University CSPC would focus on assisting local entrepreneurs with any necessary market research, the technical implementation of a working prototype of the software, the development of business and marketing plans for the launching of the product, and the branding and physical packaging of the product. Once the collaboration with the MU CSPC is complete, the entrepreneur will be prepared to sell their product, either by attempting to raise additional funds through existing companies or venture capitalists, or by directly selling to a customer base. The Faculty Steering Committee of the MU CSPC will be a cross-disciplinary team, bringing together expertise in computer science (Dr. Stephanie Elzer), business/marketing (Dr. Patrick McCaskey), and communications/public relations (Dr. Theresa Russell-Loretz). The Faculty Steering Committee will work together with the MU CSPC Advisory Board, which will consist of community stakeholders and regional business experts, to assist local entrepreneurs and small business owners in attaining their business objectives.

To be successful, this project must enable us to achieve two overarching goals: 1) Use faculty expertise, the assistance of student interns from various disciplines, and appropriate consultation with external technology transfer experts to establish the infrastructure required to run and market an efficient, customer-friendly, and sustainable computer software productization center at Millersville University and 2) successfully pilot at least three software productization projects with local entrepreneurs or small business owners, which will enable us to refine the process and build regional credibility.