Discovery to Product creates new program to grow entrepreneurship at UW–Madison
Discovery to Product, which supports and mentors faculty, staff and student innovators and entrepreneurs on campus, is offering a new program called Innovation to Market. The fall I2M program builds on the success of D2P’s Igniter program cohorts that helped start 19 companies over the past three years.
“The goals of D2P, located within the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education, and the I2M and Igniter programs are to mature projects on campus so that they become competitive for the funding needed to form a company, enhance their licensing potential, or fine-tune their research objectives,” explains Andy Richards, director of D2P.
But while Igniter covers the broad spectrum of Lean Startup and Business Model Canvas, I2M focuses on preparing teams to find Product-Market Fit, the fundamental building block of successful startups. Richards says to think of Product-Market Fit as the first step in the commercialization process: knowing who your customers are and what they want, whether your product fits their needs, and whether there is enough demand to generate sufficient profit.
There is no cost to participate in the I2M program; the deadline to apply is Oct. 3.
The program begins Oct. 16 with an overview of the Business Model Canvas as context for the hands-on customer discovery work that will be performed. The teaching team will provide training and materials to assist teams as they develop their understanding of potential customers. During the program, teams will interview customers and other influencers as they test market need for their innovation. In a group setting, teams will learn to incorporate startup tools and techniques such as the Business Model Canvas, customer discovery, desk research, in-depth customer interviews and value proposition design.
The five-week series includes three classroom sessions running from 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 16, Oct. 30 and Nov. 13, and two mandatory one-hour office meetings with the teaching team scheduled on Oct. 23 and Nov. 6 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Richards cites the benefits of the I2M program as helping participants develop best practices for conducting customer discovery and identifying key stakeholders, improving the odds of commercial success, expanding networks, fostering a better understanding of market trends and technology needs, and encouraging participants to learn, practice and hone their innovation skills.
“Upon completion of the I2M program, teams will have the skills needed to continue exploring Product-Market Fit for their innovations,” Richards says.
“UW–Madison is supporting the Wisconsin Idea when it broadens entrepreneurial opportunity — when students, faculty and staff can test their ideas for marketplace readiness, and when the best innovations can rise to the top and be successful.”
Each team will need to determine the most beneficial next steps in their commercialization journey. For some, the D2P Igniter program could be the next step and an option to finalize customer discovery and develop their business model. For others, a more intensive NSF or NIH I-Corps customer discovery path could be pursued.
“The D2P team will assist you with planning your unique commercialization pathway and connect you with resources to help move forward,” Richards says. “UW–Madison is supporting the Wisconsin Idea when it broadens entrepreneurial opportunity — when students, faculty and staff can test their ideas for marketplace readiness, and when the best innovations can rise to the top and be successful. D2P strives to catalyze more entrepreneurial activity on campus. One way of doing that is the new I2M program.”
If you have any questions regarding the program, please contact D2P at firstname.lastname@example.org.