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Mtech's Mission

    The mission of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech), a unit of the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, is to:

    • Educate the next generation of technology entrepreneurs;
    • Create successful technology ventures; and
    • Connect Maryland companies with university resources to help them succeed.

    Mtech has built a comprehensive entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem at the University of Maryland. Its programs arm top students from around the world with the knowledge of how to successfully launch companies and guide aspiring and existing entrepreneurs through the entire lifecycle of launching and maintaining technology-based ventures.

    Read more about Mtech >





    DC I-CORPS > Program Details

    program details

    Benefits of the Program

    The I-Corps program offers many potential benefits to participants. Here is a short list derived from the experience of past participants.

    • LEARN what it takes to commercialize your technology, along with the barriers to adoption and how to overcome them
    • DETERMINE the real-world impacts of your research or technology
    • EXPAND your network with introductions to potential mentors, customers and investors
    • IDENTIFY increased commercial potential for your technologies
    • INCREASE your probability for grant success with the credibility I-Corps provides
    • SAVE years and money by accelerating your understanding of your product and its market
    • ESTABLISH a path to the NSF’s  I-Corps national program, which provides grants of $50,000 for I-Corps, and subsequent opportunities for SBIR grants

    Who Qualifies for the DC I-Corps Program?

    Teams may come from regional universities, federal labs/agencies, and from the general community. However, specific program cohorts may be limited to certain team types, so please check for additional qualifications in the schedule for upcoming programs. Teams are expected to be technology-based, with specific innovations to test in the market. If you have a question about whether you qualify, please contact us.

    Teams will all go through a formal application process, and will be judged on a combination of the following factors: (1) commercial readiness of technology, (2) potential market impact of innovation, and (3) team qualifications and dynamics.

    Curriculum

    The I-Corps curriculum provides a real-world, hands-on, immersive learning experience about how to transform innovations into successful products and services. It’s not about how to write a research paper, business plan, or grant proposal. The end result is not a publication, slide deck, or a scientific discovery.

    Instead, the entire I-Corps Team will be engaged with industry; talking to customers, partners, and competitors; and encountering the chaos and uncertainty of transforming innovations into successful commercial opportunities. The program will force you to get out of your laboratory, university, or garage – and will often push you beyond your comfort zone.

    This curriculum requires full participation from the entire I-Corps Team. Each team member must commit to in-depth preparation, attendance at the lectures and workshops, and WebEx conference calls. If you cannot commit 15-20 hours per week, the DC I-Corps effort is not for you.

    "[The program] taught us to hear the customer first and to design the business model with a customer at the center—if there is no need in the market, even the best innovation will fail."

    —Lisa Pikus, VP, Strategy, InventWood, February 2020 UMD I-Corps Cohort

    What Makes a Team

    A traditional I-Corps team consists of three individuals: an Entrepreneurial Lead (EL), a Principal Investigator (PI), and an Industry Mentor (IM). This three-person team has proven very successful in most cases. However, in some cases, it may not be possible for the inventor (PI) to participate in the program. In other cases, it may be possible for the inventor to act as an EL. So the DC I-Corps program will accept teams with two or three participants, as long as each team has a designated EL and IM. The program will also accept teams with up to four members with prior approval of the teaching team.

    Required Team Roles

    The Entrepreneurial Lead (EL) acts as the team leader and spokesperson. Regardless of whether this person comes from a university, federal lab/agency, or community at large, this individual must have a strong desire to explore the commercial potential of the innovation brought by the team. Ideally, this person will have intimate knowledge of the technology even if he or she is not the original inventor. For university and federal lab/agency teams, a graduate student or post-doc will often fill this role.

    In some cases, the inventor or principal investigator may act as the EL for two-person teams. For community-based teams (those that do not come from a university or federal lab/agency), the EL may be any team member other than the Industry Mentor. Any team may choose to have more than one EL with prior approval from the teaching team.

    The Industry Mentor (IM)
    will typically be an experienced entrepreneur or business executive. The IM is a third-party resource and sounding board. Mentors guide teams forward, help them interpret customer comments, assist the team in contacting relevant people, and keep the team honest about what they are hearing from the marketplace. If you do not have an appropriate mentor, we can help you find a suitable match. Teams may also have more than one mentor with prior approval from the teaching team.

    Mentors can review the DC I-Corps Mentor Handbook
    here.

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