University of Maine I-Corps Program
I-Corps helps foster innovation and entrepreneurship by providing faculty, staff and students with the tools and guidance needed to identify the market opportunity for their STEM-based research.
This program is open to those who want to explore the commercialization potential of their innovation, regardless of whether or not they want to start a company.
How does it work?
The program is a good first step in exploring the commercialization potential of a novel technology/solution and also provides grant funding for the same. Team ideas or projects can originate from student work, research (funded or unfunded), institutional, or industrial projects. The topical focus of a project must be in the area(s) of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) normally supported by the National Science Foundation. Innovations in the humanities, business, social sciences and interdisciplinary fields are also eligible if there is a technology application.
The program runs six weeks and consists of a full-day boot camp followed by weekly coaching sessions. Teams are expected to complete 10-12 customer and/or stakeholder interviews and provide progress updates during weekly one-on-one coaching sessions.
Each team should consist of three members: the Entrepreneurial Lead (EL), who should possess relevant knowledge of the technology and a deep commitment to investigate the market opportunity for the innovation; the Technical Lead (TL), who should possess deep and direct technical expertise in the actual core innovation (this person typically also serves as the Principal Investigator); and the I-Corps Team Mentor (IM), who will typically be an experienced or emerging entrepreneur with proximity to UMaine and experience in transitioning technology out of academia. The IM should be a third-party resource and may be recommended by the UMaine or be a UMaine employee.
The UMaine I-Corps Program curriculum is based on Lean Launchpad and Innovation Engineering. Teams are provided with tools such as the Business Model Canvas, guidance on customer discovery, and Innovation Engineering tools to better understand the commercialization possibilities for an innovation and/or idea.
We encourage teams to apply for our next cohort. If you need assistance forming your team or have questions, please email Renee Kelly.