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Dr. Pourdeyhimi previews NWI’s upcoming Nonwoven Product Development & Innovation Short Course

Dr. Behnam Pourdeyhimi Headshot
Dr. Behnam Pourdeyhimi discusses the importance of stage-gate and what attendees can expect from NWI’s Nonwoven Product Development & Innovation Short Course

The Nonwovens Institute (NWI) is offering its popular Nonwoven Product Development & Innovation Short Course August 13-16 at the Centennial Campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh. This course, presented in partnership with INDA, The Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, will be led by Behnam Pourdeyhimi, Ph.D., professor and executive director of NWI at NC State University, with contributions from Tom Daugherty, deputy director of NWI (former Procter & Gamble), Dave Nelson, director of industry engagement and education for NWI (former 3M), and Benoit Maze, Ph.D., director of simulation for NWI. 

This course is designed to provide attendees a view of the full lifecycle of nonwoven product development from experts in R&D with decades of expertise in bringing new products to market. The course will include classroom learning and a hands-on exemplar where attendees will utilize NWI’s state-of-the art labs to work through options for creating a new sustainable wipe product. 

In the following Q&A Dr. Pourdeyhimi discusses what attendees can expect from the Nonwoven Product Development & Innovation Short Course and why this training is particularly important for a wide range of industry stakeholders. 

Why is product development and innovation such a key concept for stakeholders working in the nonwovens industry to understand?

Dr. Pourdeyhimi: Product development is really a multi-disciplinary function, which involves not only professionals working in R&D and product development directly, but also purchasing and finance, sales and marketing, etc. Everybody at the company who has a responsibility for the business needs to become familiar with product development. They need to understand their roles and responsibilities in helping move a product through a stage-gate. Without all of these puzzle pieces in place, the likelihood that a new product will come together and achieve a level of success in the marketplace diminishes significantly.   

The expertise that lives at NWI has been developed over more than 30 years. Training with individuals who have led product development and R&D programs for companies such as 3M and Procter & Gamble is a unique opportunity.

Even if you have very little experience in product development, it is important to learn the discipline of following the stage-gate process. It is important to understand how to effectively set targets at each stage of the product development process, along with the metrics and deliverables that will ensure success.

Without a strong new product development process, and people who really understand how to do product development and innovation, companies will wither and die. 

What is unique about this training course?

Dr. Pourdeyhimi: I think the combination of in-the-classroom learning together with hands-on nonwoven process learning in the lab is something you cannot find in any other training program. Here at NWI, we have spunbond, meltblown and carding equipment augmented with a portfolio of bonding technologies, including thermal bonding, hydroentangling and needle punching, along with a full suite of testing labs, which we will utilize as needed as part of this course. We’re not going to just talk about product development, we’re going to actually get our hands dirty and make a product, putting the stage-gate principles we learn in class into action via a real-world exemplar.

The expertise that lives at NWI has been developed over more than 30 years. Training with individuals who have led product development and R&D programs for companies such as 3M and Procter & Gamble is a unique opportunity. 

What can attendees expect to take away from this course?

Dr. Pourdeyhimi: Attendees will come out of the course with a firm grasp of the different aspects of a successful product development and innovation process – from basic research to development and ultimately commercialization.

We will explain how to win at IP — how to do a proper patent search; how to organize a patent application; how to write a strong patent; and how to determine freedom to practice (i.e., identifying new product opportunities that are not encumbered by other patents and can be commercialized).

We will also cover market search and how to establish differentiation and value in the marketplace. 

There will be many case studies provided to illuminate the concepts and principles we discuss during the course. 

Finally, the course will provide team building, with a hands-on exemplar where we will apply the lessons learned by working on small teams to develop a sustainable wipe product that can effectively compete in the marketplace. We will build out the business case for our product and then go into NWI’s labs and make and test our product.

In the end, I’d say we’re going to learn a lot, and we’re going to have a lot of fun. So I encourage anybody who is considering attending the course to please come to NWI, and I’m sure you will have a valuable experience. 


Are you interested in the August 13-16 Nonwoven Product Development & Innovation Short Course?

Recommended reading: “Winning at New Products” by Robert Cooper, Ph.D.

Developing true innovations and bold new products is a challenge in today’s business environment, leading many companies to shift toward smaller, less ambitious innovation attempts. In this book, Dr. Cooper reveals the critical success factors in product innovation and outlines Stage-Gate, the most widely-used roadmap for successfully launching new products to market.

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