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NSF I-Corps gives researchers the opportunity to combine their strong technical and scientific knowledge with an entrepreneurial mindset, with the goal of discovering new technologies that can be developed for market. The Upstate New York I-Corps Node will be bringing its expertise and network of contacts to a free short course at the Blackstone LaunchPad, Bird Library, this fall to connect Syracuse University faculty and graduate students with seasoned entrepreneurs, potential industry partners, and other researchers working with deep technology.

Registration is now open for the course September 28 – October 12 at http://unyicorps.org/attend-a-short-course/

Participants will learn how to acquire and apply information from the marketplace, customer interviews, and industry partners.  The short course features lecture and group breakout work in person, followed by two weeks of remote sessions. At the end of the two weeks, teams present findings at an in-person wrap-up.  Whole teams can participate in the short course. Teams already working with industry mentors stand to maximize their experience in the short course, but a mentor is not required. Short course participation is a great way to get connected with the nation-wide NSF I-Corps network of mentors, sites, nodes, and programming, as well as to better position projects for NSF and SBIR funding opportunities.

Syracuse course dates are:

  • 9/28 (4pm – 8pm), Session 1
  • 9/29 (9am – 1pm), Session 2
  • 10/3 (2pm – 3 pm), Session 3 (via conference call)
  • 10/10 (2pm – 3 pm), Session 4 (via conference call)
  • 10/12 (9am – 1pm), Session 5

All sessions will be taught at the Blackstone LaunchPad, Bird Library, and include light meals. The course focuses on two topics: 1) customer discovery to identify and reach out to your target market, assess their needs, and pivot your project to best serve customers; and 2) validated business plan to confirm your pathway for taking technology to market and demonstrate to potential funders that you’ve put your plan to the test.

The Syracuse course is co-sponsored by: Syracuse University Office of Technology Transfer, Syracuse University Innovation Law Center + NYS Science and Law Science and Technology Law Center, and the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars.  It will be taught by experienced faculty and mentors from The Upstate New York I-Corps Node, which acts as a hub for commercialization training in the Northeast, connecting researchers to valuable resources through national and regional I-Corps programming.

What is an I-Corps Short Course?

 I-Corps Short Courses provide support for universities interested in adopting I-Corps programming. UNY I-Corps Short Courses are not designed to replace entrepreneurial programming, but rather to support efforts to:

  • Identify candidates for national NSF I-Corps programs
  • Prepare Entrepreneurial Leads for national NSF I-Corps programs

Who Should Apply?

New York-based academic researchers and student entrepreneurs who:

  • Have a tech innovation in any STEM field & want to explore its commercialization potential
  • Are willing to find and talk to 30 potential customers in  two weeks
  • May want to apply for the NSF I-Corps Teams national program and a $50,000 grant
  • Have 1-3 team members who can participate in the Short Course dates, including
    • Required: one “Entrepreneurial Lead” (typically a Grad student or Postdoc, sometimes an undergrad, with interest in pursuing a startup based on the technology)
    • Optional: one “Technical Lead” (Faculty or senior lab staff) and on “Industry Mentor” (experienced entrepreneur) who will support the EL in their market exploration.

How It Works:

In this free 2-week course, researchers working on a technical innovation “get out of the lab” and talk with potential customers to identify the best product-market fit.

  • The course begins with an in-person kickoff workshop, where teams learn how to use the Business Model Canvas, a hypothesis-testing methodology and customer discovery interviews to explore if there’s a viable market fit for their product idea.
  • Taught by seasoned entrepreneurial teams using Lean LaunchPad methodology, with NSF guidance to validate your assumptions and discovery process.
  • Over two weeks, teams go out and talk to potential customers about their needs, with the goal of completing 30 interviews.
  • Each week, teams attend a one-hour video check in to share progress updates and get coaching from the instructors.
  • The short course ends with an in-person closing workshop (half day) where teams present their findings, get more coaching, and learn about next steps with NSF I-Corps and other entrepreneurship programs.
  • Become eligible for national I-Corps teams.
  • 40-50% of teams that participate in I-Corps training successfully win SBIR seed funding (up to $225k)

For more info visit http://unyicorps.org/ or reach out to Syracuse University program partners:

Syracuse University Office of Technology Transfer, jmcrisp@syr.edu or jeffery@syr.edu

Syracuse University Innovation Law Center + NYS Science and Law Science and Technology Law Center, mzimme01@law.syr.edu

Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars, ldhart01@syr.edu