Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Managing to start: The application of lean startup and design thinking to academic commercialisation projects

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posted on 2021-11-14, 03:44 authored by Townend, Oliver

This thesis examines the application of Lean Startup and Design Thinking processes to the commercialisation of academic research. Using retrospective analysis of project work undertaken by the “Hyv” team as part of the 2013 Masters of Advanced Technology Enterprise (MATE) programme, it is demonstrated that both Lean Startup and Design Thinking provide useful frameworks for research commercialisation by interdisciplinary academic teams. The Lean Startup provides a framework within which to test key assumptions about a project while building towards a sustainable business model. This proved particularly relevant as the team explored preconceived commercialisation paths for ongoing research projects. In contrast, Design Thinking provides a valuable means of achieving a complete understanding of a problem faced by a particular market, thereby informing the development of a viable solution. The applicability of these two conceptual frameworks to research ideation and commercialisation became evident in response to the requirements of projects analysed during the MATE course (specifically the NacreTech and Sound Concepts projects), and they together provide complementary theoretical bases for future work. Their application to different research projects provided the team with broad experience, both positive and negative, and yielded useful strategies for future commercialisation work. More directly, they provide a means of revising the MATE programme to foster interdisciplinary research commercialisation across the university.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Advanced Technology Enterprise

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970115 Expanding Knowledge in Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Victoria Management School


Corbett, Lawrence