Addressing serious environmental and natural resource problems requires ingenuity, agile thinking, and innovation.
The MESM Environmental Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Innovation) focus is an experiential curriculum designed for students who wish to acquire the skills and mindset needed to drive innovation within an existing organization or to launch a new entrepreneurial venture. The Innovation focus curriculum is impact-oriented and provides flexibility to choose coursework in corporate innovation, entrepreneurship or social innovation.
As a MESM student at Bren, you can choose one or more optional academic focus areas to enhance your master’s program experience. In the Innovation focus, you will receive training to develop agile thinking and complex problem solving skills through the process of identifying and defining a market opportunity. Our innovation process involves problem discovery and ideation, conducting industry research to understand the landscape, performing market validation to reduce the risk and uncertainty of new ideas, and assessing environmental impact. Students developing business models for new environmental ventures test their ideas through pilot project or prototype development.
Bren MESM graduates who have completed the Innovation focus have applied this training to advance their careers in corporate sustainability, ESG consulting, nonprofit management, public sector leadership, and social and environmental entrepreneurship. Many graduates have successfully launched new ventures, which were ideas developed and tested through the Innovation focus or as an Eco-E Project.
Bren School graduates have successfully launched companies from ideas developed in the MESM program. Award-winning and notable companies launched from the Environmental Innovation & Entrepreneurship program include:
Creating urchin ranching solutions for the restoration of kelp habitat in California and urchin fisheries in New England.
Full-service custom and curated gifting service, sourcing from the best small makers out there.
Reducing the impacts of the apparel supply chain through harnessing waste from the Cannabis industry.
Unlocking the outdoors through play-based curriculum.
Reducing the barriers to electric vehicle use by matching EV owners with reliable charging options in their community.
Salty Girl Seafood (2014)
Improving access to sustainable, traceable seafood across the U.S.
Focus Area Coursework
The Innovation focus offers courses in corporate innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership, business strategy, finance, marketing, product development, strategic planning and more. Focus areas are optional for MESM students.
To complete the Innovation focus, students must take at least 10 units of the following courses. ESM 256A Problem Discovery and Ideation (2 units) is recommended as a foundational course for the Innovation focus but it is not required.
10 units required to complete the focus
ESM 256A Problem Discovery and Ideation (2 units) recommended
ESM 228 Monitoring and Evaluation (4 units)
ESM 230 Strategic Planning for Social Impact (4 units)
ESM 231 Creating Value through Environmental Solutions (2 units)
ESM 233 Testing Innovation Opportunities and Organizational Readiness (2 units)
ESM 256B Value Proposition Design for New Environmental Ventures (2 units)
ESM 269 Survey Design and Environmental Public Opinion (2 units)
ESM 279 Financial Management and Environmental Accounting (4 units)
ESM 281 Corporate Environmental Management (4 units)
ESM 284 Sustainable Product Development (4 units)
ESM 402A Business Model Development for New Environmental Ventures (4 units)
ESM 430 Workshop in Environmental Science and Management (Environmental Negotiation) (1 unit)
TMP 240 Business Strategy and Leadership (4 units) *
TMP 241 Managing Innovation (4 units) *
TMP 242 Entrepreneurship (4 units) *
TMP 244 Entrepreneurial Marketing (3 units) *
TMP 246 New Venture Finance (3 units) *
TMP 255 New Product Development (4 units) *
TMP 269 Creating a Market-Tested Business Model (4 units)
TMP 283 Ethnographic Research Methods (4 units)
*Several TMP courses are part of the Graduate Program in Management Practice (GPMP), a UC-recognized certificate offered by Technology Management at UCSB.
Any MESM student may choose to take Innovation courses (ESM) as electives.
Innovation focus students may choose to apply concepts learned in foundational courses to an Eco-E Project. Eco-E Project teams of 3-5 students collaborate over the course of a year to develop and refine a business model for a new, commercially viable product or service that makes a positive and measurable environmental impact.
Students pursuing an Eco-E Project develop agile thinking and complex problem solving skills, as they are challenged to make a series of strategic choices that requires bringing together science, policy, systems thinking and human context. Eco-E Projects receive funding to develop small-scale pilot projects or prototypes to obtain early customer feedback. You'll learn to cultivate a network of advisors, including faculty and industry experts. During the course of the project, you gain experience by regularly presenting your business model to colleagues, advisors, industry experts, and judging panels. You emerge with solid experience managing team dynamics, developing strategies, engaging in outreach and communications, and formally presenting your business case.
Environmental Innovation & Entrepreneurship Mentorship
Innovation focus students receive guidance and mentorship from a variety of local entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders. At the end of each quarter in each Innovation focus course, teams present to a judging panel for critical feedback and an industry perspective. The Eco-Entrepreneurship Advisory Council (EEAC) meets quarterly with students developing business models for new environmental ventures and provides ongoing feedback throughout the two-year MESM program. Additional mentors and select external advisors from relevant industries are assigned to teams to provide insight into current industry dynamics and share contacts within their industry.
UCSB Innovation & Entrepreneurship Ecosystem
UC Santa Barbara Innovation + Entrepreneurship is a coordinated campus-wide organization designed to stimulate new, diverse, and lasting economic development opportunities. Comprised of distinct yet complementary partner programs on campus, UCSB I+E provides physical infrastructure, educational programming, technology translation, and startup incubation and acceleration to the campus community. Building on UCSB's existing strengths in creating successful faculty and student entrepreneurial endeavors in every market from advanced materials to environmental solutions, UCSB I+E will continue to launch successful and lasting businesses that positively impact our city, state, and beyond.