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Business professor and students at Mayo Innovation Scholars Program

Leading Edge Thinkers at Mayo Clinic

What’s the next big technical innovation in the medical field and where will it come from? Answers to these questions may be years away -- or as close as Rochester, Minnesota. 

Through the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program (MISP), a group of select St. Thomas students team up on some leading-edge projects. In the fall, each team is given a new product or invention in development at Mayo Clinic to analyze; they present findings at the Mayo Clinic in early March.

Teams are led by a master’s level student and advised by St. Thomas professors and a project manager from the Mayo Clinic. They're intentionally not provided much guidance so MBA students must lead through a fair amount of ambiguity -- a true test in their leadership.

The team leader's job is to ensure the delivery of project requirements, set milestone goals, provide technical assistance, communicate with all stakeholders and assist with the final paper and presentation delivery. Most recently, the St. Thomas team looked at a cancer research project and its correlating business development and marketability. 

Steve Vuolo, clinical instructor in the Marketing Department of the Opus College of Business, is the faculty adviser of the St. Thomas MBA programs. He selects the participants and oversees the MBA team leaders throughout the project.

“There's no cookie cutter approach to these projects,” he said. “Each project is unique and truly tests the leadership of our MBA students. They apply leadership, project management, marketing and business ethics principles from the classroom to real business decisions.”

The program culminates with teams presenting their findings and recommendations at the Mayo Clinic in March of each year. Program funding for the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program comes from Medtronic Philanthropy, Mayo Clinic’s Department of Business Development, the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and Minnesota Private Colleges.