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University of Colorado Boulder

Product Innovation Management

University of Colorado Boulder via Coursera


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This third course in the product development specialization discusses the business side of product development. The course begins with an overview of marketing and pricing strategies, and how company’s price their products today. Learners are then introduced to the project’s financial business case, defining key financial metrics such as NPV, IRR and Payback Period. The course then shows how to make an effective presentation these to the executive office for funding. The course concludes with a discussion of sustainability and how to design innovative products for a circular economy. Throughout the course, the student is challenged to continue developing their own product idea, one they have followed throughout the specialization. This course can be taken for academic credit as part of CU Boulder’s Master of Engineering in Engineering Management (ME-EM) degree offered on the Coursera platform. The ME-EM is designed to help engineers, scientists, and technical professionals move into leadership and management roles in the engineering and technical sectors. With performance-based admissions and no application process, the ME-EM is ideal for individuals with a broad range of undergraduate education and/or professional experience. Learn more about the ME-EM program at


  • Course Overview; Marketing 101
    • Module 1 begins with an overview of the course and how it works. It then introduces several principles of Marketing, including the 4 and 5 "P's" of marketing. The course then looks at pricing strategies and how companies establish price. Customers within a market buy for different reasons, and the idea of market adoption is introduced with segments such as Innovators, Early Majority, and the Laggards. The module concludes with students constructing a tri-fold marketing brochure suitable for a tradeshow event.
  • Building the Business Case
    • Module 2 introduces the process for creating a financial business case for a product development project. This involves estimating future sales, costs and then based on the resulting cash flows, the project's financial viability using financial metrics such as NPV, IRR and the Payback Period.
  • The Product Development Proposal Presentation
    • Module 3 shows the steps to prepare a product development presentation proposal suitable for presentation to upper management or investors.
  • Product Development and the Circular Economy
    • Module 4 introduces the concept of the Circular Economy, and how it differs from today's Linear Economy. The 3 Principles of the Circular Economy are described using examples of how they are applied. A more detailed view of the Circular Economy is presented using the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's Butterfly Diagram, highlighting the Technical and Biological Nutrient Cycles as foundational to circular product design.
  • Sustainability and Product Development
    • Module 5 links product development to environmental and social sustainability. The module begins by providing an overview of the sustainability imperative, essentially arguing why we as product developers need to focus on more sustainable products and services. The concept of "The Anthropocene" is introduced, as a description of how human activities are now shaping the planet's natural processes. Sustainability is then defined in terms of environmental and social responsibility. The module concludes with an overview of sustainable products, beginning with a case study of a typical t-shirt.

Taught by

Michael J. Readey, Ph.D.


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