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MSIM Innovation Skillsets

Creating high-impact solutions requires more than technical expertise and creativity. That’s why the MSIM program is centered around building four core skillsets through Innovation Sprints. Each sprint, you’ll immerse yourself in a semester-long, team venture that goes through the entire innovation cycle so you can develop and demonstrate these innovation skills.

The four skillsets that empower sustainable innovation:

  1. Identifying problems
  2. Validating solutions
  3. Business modeling
  4. Driving implementation

Along the way, you’ll also gain fluency with data science and other underlying capabilities necessary for modern innovation.

Skillset 1: Identifying Problems That Matter

  • Customer Discovery: Interview potential customers to create customer and user profiles
  • Ethnographic Research: Observe customer behavior to identify and test product hypotheses
  • Value Propositions: Get to the heart of your customer’s deep emotional need
  • Data Science: Identify real-world problems by finding patterns in large data sets

Innovation in action: OnGuard

Created by four 2017 MSIM students, OnGuard is a concussion warning system that provides instant impact alerting, data tracking, and analysis. Using what they learned during their Innovation Sprints, the team conducted in-depth interviews to create both a customer profile (coaches/athletic directors) and user profile (athletes). So far, the results are promising: OnGuard placed second in the Tufts $100k New Ventures Competition as part of the Healthcare/Life Science track.


OnGuard MSIM Class of 2017 team members: Barton Liang, Patricia O'Connor, Edith Hu, Paget Stanco.


Skillset 2: Creating & Validating Compelling Solutions

  • Lean Approach: Continuously test and iterate your business model based on customer feedback
  • Leveraging Emerging Technology: Create a point of differentiation for your product
  • Design Thinking: Develop fast prototypes based on customer needs and expertise from a diverse team of problem solvers
  • Rapid Prototyping: Test and refine often, using an agile approach to incremental development

Innovation in action: Lighthouse Technologies

A team of MSIM students created multiple prototypes of a handheld device that can detect breast cancer, the biggest killer of women under 39 years of age. The team combined research from two Tufts faculty members: one using infrared light to detect malignant cancer cells and one creating a microchip with infrared sensors. Using 3D printing, the MSIM student team developed several prototypes and tested them with radiologists and other potential customers.

Skillset 3: Business Modeling

  • Business Models: Translate customer need into a compelling, profitable solution
  • Segmentation & Forecasting: Understand customer behavior to evaluate market size and availability
  • Financial Planning: Build financial models that hook investors
  • Predictive Modeling: Forecast future market patterns based on large data sets

Innovation in action: ZwitterCo

A team of MSIM students are looking at how membrane filtration technology can be applied to offshore oil drilling companies. Based on research from Tufts Professor Ayse Asatekin, the filtration technology’s possible applications include treating waste water or enabling industrial oil clean up solutions. By speaking directly with offshore drilling companies, the MSIM team is looking at where to insert themselves into the supply chain and whether it is more sustainable to sell directly to the end user or to suppliers of filter technologies.


Zwitter Co. MSIM Class of 2018 team members: Ke Lan, Alex Rappaport, Aditi Deorukhakar, Chen Chen. Watch Alex and Aditi talk about their experience working on the Innovation Sprint.



Skillset 4: Driving Implementation

  • New Product Development: Set up a repeatable manufactural process
  • Positioning & Marketing Strategy: Build a unique, compelling brand identity
  • Marketing Technology: Explore social media, analytics, and viral techniques
  • Leadership Skills: Negotiating, persuading, and resolving conflict

    Innovation in action: Patricia O’Connor, MSIM '17, Engineer at iStrategy Lab

    "I came out of the MSIM program ready to lead and collaborate in the workplace. My Innovation Sprint experiences taught me user-centered, rapid prototyping techniques that I’m able to apply in my work at iStrategyLabs, which designs engaging and inspiring exhibits, commercials, media, and shows for major brands that leverage leading edge hardware and software."