UGA’s I-Corps accelerator program recently welcomed its largest cohort since launching in 2017. Fourteen teams are participating in the customer discovery-focused program this fall, which kicked off its first virtual meeting on Sept. 21.
UGA I-Corps is the STEM-focused program funded by the National Science Foundation that helps UGA researchers translate their technologies out of the lab and into the marketplace. Innovation Gateway’s Startup Program offers I-Corps three times a year, and it continues to spur interest and innovation around campus. The program is available to technology-based projects involving faculty, staff, students or community members. It has become the standard means to begin determining the commercial potential of new startup projects coming from UGA research.
Week 1 featured introductions and presentations by the instructional staff, “free agents” and startup projects. The instructors highlighted the top reasons startup companies typically fail, explained technology-readiness levels, and briefly introduced the cohort to customer segments, while the free agents shared their entrepreneurial backgrounds, interests and experiences. Typically graduate students or post-docs, the free agents are paired with startup projects needing additional help, and they assist in conducting customer discovery interviews. Each I-Corps project introduced its team members and shared its partial business model canvas and plans to conduct 40 customer interviews by the end of the accelerator.
Week 2 will feature team updates on the customer discovery process and an interactive session on customer segments and interview techniques. Each team will also spend time with the I-Corps coaches during weekly office hours.