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Case Study of University of Maryland’s “Mini I-Corps” Program: Vetting and Preparing Faculty Entrepreneurs and Start-Ups in Less Time with Less Money

Format: On-Demand Video, DVD, or PDF Transcript
Originally presented: June 29, 2016

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nsf-i-corpsThe National Science Foundation’s I-Corps initiative is heavily influenced by the lean start-up methodology, which calls for rapid iteration of value propositions and customer segments based on formal and extensive interviews with the industry stakeholders of a technology or service. While this methodology has proven to be very successful overall, many universities have reported difficulty engaging faculty in the process because of the six-week commitment to the program.

To break through that barrier, The University of Maryland has adapted the I-Corps program to a streamlined, “mini” I-Corps workshop called UMD Intro to I-Corps. This 2-week intensive program is offered campus-wide and employs all the same philosophies as the NSF program, but in one-third the time. It pairs a PI with a post-doc, graduate or undergraduate student for training on the program, conducting interviews with customers and tapping the TTO for guidance along the way. The program also offers mentorship to each participating team to evaluate their understanding of the workshop’s lessons and guide their thought process for future interviews.

The condensed program has proven successful on a number of fronts: It brings more new technologies out of the lab to the TTO’s pipeline; it weeds out the tire-kickers from the serious entrepreneurs in a short period of time; it engages dedicated faculty with the TTO to provide a foundation for future collaborations; and it encourages faculty to apply to the full six-week NSF program to continue their market research studies.

Technology Transfer Tactics’ Distance Learning Division invites you to enroll in this case study of UMD’s Intro to I-Corps program so you can learn how to launch a similar initiative at your university. Please join presenters Pasquale Ferrari and Dean Chang for this one-hour program where they discuss:

  • Overview of the NSF I-Corps program
  • A detailed blueprint of the two-week “mini I-Corps” program
  • What elements of the NSF program does “UMD Intro to I-Corps” preserve and why
  • How it differs:
    • I-Corps team
    • number of customer calls
    • training elements
  • How the program has increased student and faculty engagement and expanded the entrepreneurship culture at UMD
  • How UMD Intro to I-Corps has led to more informed tech transfer decisions and goodwill among faculty

PLUS! Follow along with the recorded Q&A portion of the program.

Your program faculty:

Dean ChangDean Chang, PhD
Associate VP for Innovation & Entrepreneurship
University of Maryland

Dr. Chang leads the campus-wide Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which aims to help all students and researchers cultivate the innovator and entrepreneurial mindset inside of them through design thinking, lean startup, and team-based experiential learning. He is a PI and instructor in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) I-Corps Node program. He develops and teaches Innovation and Entrepreneurship curriculum for high school and college students, university researchers, and government agencies. Dr. Chang previously led the technology start-up venture programs in the Clark School of Engineering and before that was CTO and VP for Gaming Business of Immersion Corporation, a venture-backed, Stanford University robotics lab spinout.

Pasquale FerrariPasquale Ferrari
Senior Licensing Manager for Physical Sciences
Office of Technology Commercialization
University of Maryland, College Park

Before coming to OTC, Pasquale was a Technology Transfer Associate at ASRC Aerospace for the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. He has also served as a Market Research Assistant for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Pasquale is responsible for working with the University of Maryland’s physical science technology portfolios and manages related licensing activities. Pasquale has also mentored two teams through national NSF I-Corps cohorts.

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