NSF I-CORPS™ Training At Washington State University
Bridging The Academia Business Gap
Scientific, academic research sometimes bears the fruit of innovations with business potential. However, getting that “fruit” to market – while it’s still fresh – is another story. Entrepreneurs seeking a university education frequently focus on the business of running a business, rather than scientific research. Additionally, scientific research rarely focuses on creating new business startups. Tenure tracks emphasize generating publishable results within a single field of study. Occasionally publishable results in one field cross-pollinate in other disciplines. Rarely do any of those cross-pollinations bear fruit in the business community.
Seeking to spur innovations and business startups from inside the academic community, the National Science Foundation (NSF) started I-CORPS ™ in 2011. I-CORPS ™ created an intensive curriculum using Steve Blank’s Lean Launchpad process. Groups of three-member teams of were charged with creating, refining and test new business ideas over the course of several weeks. They were forced outside the classroom walls to conduct at least 100 customer interviews. Each original hypothesis was tweaked or eliminated after being exposed to changing marketplace forces and real live customers.
Thus far I- CORPS ™ has helped startups such as:
- AnchovilLabs – acquired by DropBox in 2012
- Math Snacks –short educational animations, games, and interactive tools to help middle-schoolers with math concepts
- Bio-Adhesive Alliance – a low cost, durable, non-petroleum-based asphalt
In 2014, NSF’s I-CORPS™ joined with VentureWell, a not-for-profit education network begun in 1995. VentureWell (formally known as the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance) helped innovative entrepreneurship programs at U.S. colleges and universities. Working closely with NSF, The Lemelson Foundation, USAID, Intel and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, VentureWell created high impact training. The combined I-CORPS™ and VentureWell organization was named the “NSF I-CORPS™ National Innovation Network” (NIN).
I-CORPS™ Comes To The Palouse
Through the efforts of principal investigator Dr. Travis Woodland, Dr. Howard Davis, Dr. Brian Kraft, and Marie Mayes, Washington State University received funding for 3 – 8 week I-CORPS™ training sessions. An initial cohort of ten companies will be selected for Lean Launchpad business software intensive training.
The LaunchPad training leads new startups through nine building blocks of any business.
- Customer segments for whom you are creating value
- Value propositions for each business segment
- Channels where you touch customers and deliver value
- Customer relationships you establish
- Revenue streams
- Key resources
- Key activities
- Key partnerships
- Cost structure
When mapped out on a single business model canvas each block and its interrelationships can be addressed, improved and structured to produce a successful business process.