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The Curtis and Dudley Carlson Value Creation Initiative at WPI

Innovation for Impact (i4i)

Four students holding signs that say The Best Value Creators and Innovators Are at WPI

Value Creation: How world-changing innovations come to life

You came to WPI to be the best at what you do and to make an impact. Value creation is how you make that happen.

Understanding value creation is the game changer in today’s world.  Professionals with these skills are in constant demand and sought out by others.  Value creation is your only professional skill that becomes more valuable over your entire career.   

Value creation the skillset at the heart of all success stories. It’s how you solve problems that matter and how you develop innovations that change the world. When you solve problems that make a difference to others, you deliver value—what your end-users and other stakeholders want.

At WPI, our goal is to help develop the world’s best value creators and innovators. We set the bar high because there is no alternative in today’s global innovation economy.  We want our graduates to be able to develop major innovations that matter to others.

Students master the value creation process throughout their academic careers at WPI.  VCI programs teach the difference between an idea that’s merely interesting and one the world needs.

Our project-based approach to education allows us to uniquely add value creation concepts and practices   VCI principles and processes are incorporated into our curriculum— in specific courses, within general coursework, and in our team projects.  Students can graduate with a distinctive value creation certificate that signals to the world that they have a sought-after skill that no other graduates in the world have.

Students collaborating in the foisie makerspace
Value creation, a must-have process for how to make a positive impact, is being integrated within the project-based approach that WPI pioneered—and continues to innovate.
Ideas and innovations must have value to create impact—that’s the lesson (and the practice) in Value Creation Workshops, available for faculty, staff, and students at WPI.
Ideas and innovations must have value to create impact—that’s the lesson (and the practice) in Value Creation Workshops, available for faculty, staff, and students at WPI.
Professor Carlson giving a presentation
Curt Carlson ’63, whose leadership across his career has transformed world-changing ideas into tens of billions of dollars of marketplace value, inspires during a workshop at WPI.
VCI Projects are based all over the world
WPI’s Global Projects Program immerses student teams into communities near and far, where they apply value creation principles to local problem solving. (Ghana Project Center)

Read Innovation for Impact by Curt Carlson ’67, in Harvard Business Review, November 2020

Watch Curt Carlson and Todd Keiller Discuss Value Creation at the Hub Cures Speaker Series

Curt Carlson, WPI Trustee and executive-in-residence with the Curtis and Dudley Carlson Value Creation Initiative at WPI and former president of SRI International, joined moderator Todd Keiller, WPI’s director of Technology Commercialization, for the Hub Cures speaker series kick off. At the April 27 event, through Mass Ventures, Carlson and Keiller explored themes around value creation and how “the way we work is our most important innovation."

Innovation for Impact (i4i), Curt Carlson, Value creation can grow R&D & transform "tech transfer."


April 27, 2021
Innovation & Entrepreneurship , Technology Commercialization
April 27, 2021
Curtis and Dudley Carlson Value Creation Initiative

The VC Process in Action

The Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship's video library hosts many videos to help you learn more about value creation, I&E, and teamwork. Check out a few videos or watch all of them to learn more about how the value creation process works.

Active Learning

Active Learning

WPI’s Value Creation Initiative (VCI) is based on a proven method of combining value creation principles with the repeated practice of those lessons and then applying them to a real-world problem.

  • Five Disciplines

    Value creation principles are based on these five disciplines:

    • Important customer and market needs
    • Value creation process
    • Innovation champions
    • Innovation teams
    • Organizational alignment
  • Communication

    Students learn that they need to be able to communicate easily so value creation means teams have shared language, concepts, and tools such as the following common value creation terms:

    • Innovation: creation and delivery of new customer value in the marketplace with a sustainable business or other model
    • Customer value = benefits/costs
    • 3-Cs: a Venn diagram showing the market space with an unmet customer need, you have the capabilities to address it, and where the competition is weak or missing at first
    • Value Factor Analysis: a spreadsheet to help evaluate your value proposition against the competition and alternatives
    • Bring-It-to-Life: an unforgettable image or story capturing your value proposition
    • Mini-Max: a methodology for minimizing risk to maximize value
  • Need, Approach, Benefits, Competition (NABC) Framework

    A value proposition framework is often referred to as a NABC which begins with a hook—a purpose and audience-specific grabber is defined as follows:

    1. Need
    • Important unmet customer and market need with “pain point”
    • Ecosystem: trends, disruptions, business models, players, …
    • 3-Cs white space and beachhead customers: size and growth rates
    • Key insights: the few reasons why the need has not been previously addressed and why it is now possible​
    2. Approach
    • Working hypotheses — offering and business model
    • Bring-it-to-Life, risk mitigation plan, proof points, and MVPs
    • Initial development plan with milestones and resources required
    • Innovation champion and team
    • After a compelling value proposition is created, then a complete proposal or business plan is developed — timing, financing, production, supply chain, distribution, partners, sales,
    3. Benefits per costs (value)
    • Customers
    • Investors, employees, and partners
    4. Competition and alternatives
    • Now and in the future by name
    • Value Factor Analysis
    • Golden Nugget competitive advantage
    • Contingency plan for competitive response

    After completing an NABC, teams take the next action of completing a brief summary and outlining next steps.

  • Value Creation Forums

    Value creation forums are recurring, multidisciplinary, and facilitated meetings of three to five teams.

    • Each team gives a 2 to 10-minute NABC value proposition with team feedback that covers each of the following points:
      • What was good
      • How can it be improved
      • Eyes of the customer or stakeholder
      • Eyes of the funder or investor

    Evaluate the quality of the feedback

    Each forum follows specific guidelines:

    • Stand and listen: no talking back
    • Quantify: no bigger better, faster, cheaper
    • Illustrate, graph, simulate, model, and prototype
    • Unrelenting iteration — intense learning and improvement
      between forums with teammates, customers, and partners

Solving Great Problems

Solving the World’s Great Problems

The WPI community—students, faculty, and staff—is wired to find ways to solve big and important challenges. WPI’s Value Creation Initiative is a critical reinforcement for that tendency. Participants learn and apply a structured process for designing solutions that create value rather than simply being interesting.  Ultimately, Value Creation is part of a strategic toolkit that helps bring order to the unstructured, notably, the world’s great problems—from global health to clean water, energy and the environment to the future of work.

Value creation taught me the importance of asking, ‘Why are you working on a particular issue?’ and ‘Who cares about it?

High-impact Innovation

High-impact Innovation

WPI alumni have founded and run companies too numerous to mention. They have fashioned the infrastructure that supports our way of life. They have made discoveries and explored new territory—physical and metaphorical. With their ideas, imagination, and knowledge, their creativity, and their indomitable spirit, they have helped build the world we know.  Our students today benefit from their legacy and, too, have a role in paving a path to a brighter future for all of us.  You, too, can be a value creator.

Meet The Founders

Meet the Founders

WPI students obtain the education they need to be life-long value creators in the global innovation economy. They get hands-on experience in team-based problem solving, a global perspective, and an understanding of customer focused value creation.
Curt Carlson ’67
WPI Trustee, Hall of Luminaries Inductee, Executive-in-Residence
If you are doing a project, you want to make sure it’s a project people care about. Solving a problem that people have—that’s what leads to innovation.
Len Polizzotto ’70
WPI Executive-in-Residence