Innovators Jump-Start

What is an Innovators Jump-Start?

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Offered once per semester to teams of faculty, students, postdoctoral fellows and research staff, the Innovators Jump-Start provides a substantial hands-on customer discovery interviewing experience, which is a key element of the Lean Startup method. Over the course of the program, participants gain:

  • Professional development in innovation, including skills that expand job and funding opportunities.
  • Training and practice in conducting customer discovery interviews to learn about the needs of potential customers and stakeholders
  • Preparation for ongoing exploration of commercialization opportunities through the Innovators Rev-Up, which can lead to training and funding through the NSF I-Corps national teams program and beyond.

How do we apply?

Applications are welcome from teams with ideas that falls within the National Science Foundation’s research areas. At least one Entrepreneurial Lead from the team must complete an Innovators Warm-Up program prior to the start of the Innovators Jump-Start.

A team may consist of up to four members filling three roles:

  • The Entrepreneurial Lead (EL) is usually a student or postdoctoral fellow who is interested in translating the technology into a product or service. They take the lead in participating in, and representing the team at, training sessions and in conducting customer discovery interviews. ELs may also be recent alumni or professional staff. A team must have at least one EL and may have two. ELs are required to attend all workshops.
  • The Technical Lead (TL) is usually a faculty member who is interested in translational research and research commercialization opportunities. TLs support EL efforts and are encouraged to participate in all aspects of the program. A team must have a TL. TLs are strongly encouraged to attend all workshops.
  • An I-Corps Team Mentor (IM) typically comes from off-campus and has proximity to has experience with transitioning technology out of an academic lab, building new ventures, and/or working in a relevant industry. An IM supports the EL with advice and may provide industry connections. IMs are volunteers. Teams are encouraged but not required to have an IM.

If you would like help forming your team, email Laura Burnham to request a meeting.

What is expected of team members?

Entrepreneurial Leads are expected to:

  • Be open-minded, ready to think about research differently, and willing to learn new skills
  • Actively participate in three in-person workshops and one webinar
  • Attend 1-3 one-on-one coaching and mentoring
  • Complete 10 customer discovery interviews to practice the skills gained in the program and to gain insight into the needs of potential customers and end users

Technical Leads are expected to be supportive of Entrepreneurial Lead efforts and encouraged to actively participate as much they can.

Mentors are expected to work with the Technical Lead and the Entrepreneurial Lead in support of the EL's completing the 10 interviews and learning from them.