Who would have thought that a course assignment could trigger an idea for a new invention leading to a patent? Guanchen Liu ’19, from Shanghai, China, knows it better than anyone else.

It all started this past spring, when Guanchen enrolled in the Integrated Marketing Communications course taught by former Professor of Marketing, Nicholas Hamelin, and got a challenging class assignment. “The final course project was to redesign the package of a Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) product. In other words, items that sell quickly at relatively low cost. The goal was to change it to make it easier for the consumer to use,” she explained.

The project’s idea stems from her own experience: “I love to eat food in a big pack. However, as most people may notice, one third of the packaging is filled up with air. As of today, if you want to get to the remaining food in the bottom of the bag, you need to dig deep into it. I have always been thinking about possible ways to avoid this.” With this in mind, she decided to look for ways to redesign food packaging.

As she explains, “I want consumers to feel comfortable when they are eating the product in this new packaging, so I designed a flexible food package that has a line weakness and a co-parallel internal adhesive line to enable sequential opening, detachment of a portion of the packing, and reversible closure of the remaining packaging. This way, consumers can decide what part of the package they want to eat and can consume the second half later as it is reusable and the product is kept fresh.”

After presenting her unconventional project to her class, she decided to apply for a patent in March and, after an intense process, was awarded patent number 32759195.

As a senior majoring in International Management with a minor in Studio Art, Guanchen will continue strengthening her marketing skills in a graduate program next year. “Marketing is a field that fascinates me, and this patent, whose original idea came from a marketing class, has really helped me with my future plans and brought me closer to the marketing field. This is definitely something I am happy to do.”

Congratulations, Guanchen!