Rose-Hulman Ventures Has the Expertise

What kind of engineering and scientific expertise is needed for a particular project? Whether it’s bringing a new concept to market or solving a problem with a product or process, the need is often complex and multifaceted.

Any given project may require some level of mechanical engineering, a spark of electrical engineering, an element of software engineering, perhaps some chemical engineering. When all is said and done, a half dozen or more disciplines may be needed. For a big company, that diversity of expertise may all be on-staff, but that is often well beyond the capabilities of a smaller enterprise. And many companies dive into a problem not really even knowing what resources will be needed.

That’s where the “deep bench” of Rose-Hulman Ventures has been able to help many clients, says Brian Dougherty, senior director.

The broad range of expertise is essential from the very beginning, in establishing what help might be required. “Most clients don’t really know what they need,” Dougherty says. “They have a problem defining the problem statements. They don’t know what they don’t know, and need our help in finding out.”

Once a problem is defined, the path toward a solution begins to take shape. In some cases, the most cost-effective answer is to turn the problem over to a student team. Other cases might require insights from a broad range of disciplines among faculty members or the Rose-Hulman Ventures staff itself.

Dougherty points to one biomedical client that has worked with Rose-Hulman Ventures on a product to measure a patient’s total blood volume and other metrics. “Their problems for us involved a lot of mechanical engineering and a lot of optical engineering, a lot of electronics development and a lot of software development,” he says. “Those are four very separate disciplines and you don’t find somebody very good at two of those, let alone four of them.”

With that kind of need, a company can hire multiple engineers. Or, Rose-Hulman Ventures can tackle the problem for roughly the cost of one of those experts. “For the price of an FTE, you get all of the skillset you can possibly want,” Dougherty says.

“For the price of that FTE, you get access to a really broad experience-base on our full-time staff and access to faculty on campus and their deep pockets of expertise, plus 2,200 of the brightest young minds in the world. We can quickly configure our team to tackle the project of the day.”

Another project that tapped into the deep bench involved a nonprofit organization that installs wells in small African villages. The problem was that well pumps were failing in large numbers. Rose-Hulman Ventures was able to apply its broad expertise to explore whether the issue involved the mechanics of the equipment itself, the way it was being installed or the way people were using the equipment.

“We had to figure out what skillsets to apply to that to get to the point we could determine why it is the pumps don’t work,” Dougherty says. “We’re used to taking very underdefined challenges and figuring out how to get traction for our clients, taking them somewhere better than where they started.”