UNH Trains Fourth NSF I-Corps Cohort

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

On March 21st, 2018, UNH kicked off its fourth I-Corps training cohort. The training is part of an I-Corps Site Grant UNH received from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in early 2016 to foster entrepreneurship on campus and support the maturation of innovations developed at UNH from idea generation to commercialization. One of the pillars of UNH’s I-Corps Site is a nine-week Lean LaunchPad course that exposes trainees to the business model canvas, a tool that uses regular interviews with potential customers to outline how an idea fits within a market. Teams are formed around a promising innovation or idea and consist of at least an Entrepreneurial Lead, a Technology Lead, and an Industry/I-Corps Mentor.  Through participation in the UNH I-Corps training, teams are officially NSF-funded and eligible to apply for further funding to be an I-Corps Team (up to $50,000 of funding) and continue developing the commercial path for their idea through the canonical I-Corps program.

In this spring’s cohort, 38 individuals in 10 teams explored the commercialization of ideas and innovations that range from a computer program to analyze the elements of dance in choreographies to electrode materials for aqueous energy storage.  Each team can receive up to $3,000 (as a total team amount) to spend on customer discovery. Customer discovery could include the travel expenses necessary to get direct customer feedback on their ideas, like train tickets, gas, car rentals, etc. Learning materials are also reimbursed. Training the teams together in a cohort provides the important benefit of engagement with the other participants. For much of the class time, the teams are sharing with the class what they’ve learned from week to week and exploring what the latest customer feedback means for their idea. Feedback from other classmates is critical to accelerating learning.

Recent UNH graduate Andrew DeMeo, along with his business partner and wife Jess Waters participated in the current cohort to explore their startup idea Half-Acre Beekeeping, a CSA style business selling hive sponsorships to local consumers on the NH seacoast. "The I-Corps program has been incredible for Half-Acre Beekeeping,” Andrew said. “Not only has it allowed us to interact with dozens of potential customers, but the program has also helped us workshop our business in a supportive, thought-provoking environment."

If you are interested in participating in the next I-Corps cohort, please contact unh.icops@unh.edu. If you don’t have an idea or innovation but you would still like to participate, we can help match you with an existing team.