Predicting the future for good 

In the course New Technology & Future Markets, students train to identify gaps in the marketplace — current or anticipated — and then look for solutions to close them.

Students at the University of Washington Bothell who have taken a class titled New Technology & Future Markets have gone on to change the world. 

Matt Schultz, for example, is now working with the United States Food and Drug Administration to create treatment plans for orphan diseases — diseases that are extremely rare and whose conditions and treatments are often neglected due to their cost to develop and the limited patient population. 

Adam Greenberg went on to develop robotics for greenhouse growers so they can produce more food in a more efficient manner. 

Alisa Eddy started Le Pouf Luxury Pet Care, a dog walking business that yielded a six-digit salary. 

The course was first imagined by Alan Leong, a University of Washington lecturer who taught it for more than a decade. Due to an ongoing battle with cancer, he passed the torch to Richard Jacroux in 2021 and then passed away this past October. 

“Alan was a very good friend of mine,” said Jacroux, lecturer in the School of Business. “It is an honor to be brought on to the course and to continue his legacy.” 

Where technology and business intersect 

Technology management is at the core of the School of Business’ curriculum and of this class. “The University is located at the center of a technology corridor: Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland and Bothell are all booming with tech companies,” said Dr. Sophie Leroy, professor and associate dean in the School of Business and, until recently, coordinator for this course. “UW Bothell is logically the campus of choice on the Eastside to study technology management. We want to prepare our students to be successful in jobs that use technology or are in the technology sector.” 

The focus on technology within the School of Business is a key differentiator of the program, Leroy explained, noting that when people think of technology, they rarely think of business school. 

“But there is a critical aspect of technology in our economic ecosystem. It requires business acumen to be successful in that students must understand market dynamics and competitive forces — and be able to assess needs, viability and profitability,” she said. “It is also important to know how we go from an idea to a successful enterprise.” 

The School of Business offers students both a Leadership & Strategic Innovation option and a Technology & Innovation Management concentration. “This class is one example of many that showcases how we prepare our students for business development, entrepreneurship and working in corporations with a technology focus,” Leroy said. 

Added Jacroux, “it is also about teaching them how to turn their passions into business opportunities that not only make them money but also change the world.” 

Market gaps now and in the future 

The class itself is future-oriented and encourages students to think about gaps in the market and ways to innovate solutions. This process starts with the discussion of megatrends, i.e., trends that have an effect on a global scale.

“This helps students gauge what the future may look like,” Jacroux said. “Health, wealth, population and energy are usually the four big megatrends we dive into because they effect just about everything.”

He has also in the last two years added environmental issues to the students’ research agenda. “I asked him to build on his expertise in the sustainability market and bring that angle to the class. It has been extremely well received by our students, so well that Richard earned a teaching award last year. ” Leroy said. “Sustainability and technology are two key sectors that are likely to be increasingly central to business decisions.

“I am excited that students can learn more about the intersections between technology and sustainability,” she said, “and explore innovative ideas in these domains.”

Leroy explained that the course “encourages students to develop innovative ideas by going beyond an analysis of present gaps and being challenged to deeply think about the future of a market or an industry.”

The course is indeed a lot about innovation. According to Jacroux, it is designed to help students appreciate how fast technologies can change market realities and the world — and thus impact what the future may look like. 

“My hope is that they leave the class with a better understanding of the world and a better understanding of how they can impact that world.” 

My hope is that they leave the class with a better understanding of the world and a better understanding of how they can impact that world.

Richard Jacroux, lecturer in the School of Business

New technology at work 

Because the course is about technology, it also integrates innovative tools in the classroom. 

Paige Williams, a senior studying Leadership & Strategic Innovation, took the class in spring quarter 2023, shortly after the launch of Chat GPT, a large, language-model based chatbot. “That was a huge megatrend we focused on,” Williams recalled. “Professor Jacroux encouraged us to use the software in class. 

“He was adamant that Chat GPT is a good thing and that we need to learn how to use it responsibly now because we will be using it at work — and if we don’t know how to work with it, it could end up taking our jobs.” 

Williams used the software to get advice on how to best organize her slide deck for a class presentation. “The presentation was about the clothing retail industry and how it evolved over time. I had slides that talked about body positivity, social media and rules and regulations,” she said. 

“What I thought was really interesting, though, was that not only did it recommend the order in which to discuss the slides but it also suggested additional talking points such as COVID-19 and sustainability. I hadn’t previously considered those topics but felt like they were great additions and ended up including them in my final presentation.” 

When passion meets profit 

The project Williams worked on is one of two major assignments in the course. The other is for students to present on a topic of interest to them. 

“I look at this class as a start in people’s entrepreneurial journey,” Jacroux said. “Entrepreneurship is really hard, and if students are going to be successful then they need to be passionate. 

“If they go down this route, they will see their workmates more than they will their spouses so they better be doing something that they love, otherwise it’s just not worth it. Also, they need to do it in an area that has a strong future — which is why so much of the class is inherently future oriented.” 

The structure of the class has yielded great results as evidenced by the number of successful alumni. Williams said she understands why even beyond the curriculum itself. 

“The class itself was just very empowering. Even though I took it last spring, I feel like I am still learning from it. 

“Professor Jacroux encouraged us to go after our passions even if it scares us, and in doing so I have learned so many valuable things about myself,” she said. “I am planning on going back to school and getting my master’s degree. The confidence I have gained from the course has been truly amazing.” 

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