ECU pilot program receives $500,000 grant to provide boot camp for start-ups

(Photo: kxln 45 univision via MGN)

GREENVILLE, Pitt County - A pilot program designed to encourage and embrace the ideation, innovation and commercialization process at East Carolina University has received a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to establish an Innovation Corps site.

I-Corps is a federal program designed to enable and prepare teams to accelerate development of ideas using the proven I-Corp methodology. I-Corps@ECU is designed to support new venture development by building a network of ECU faculty, staff and students in partnership with industry advisors using proven approaches to innovation and commercialization.

Participants will engage in the ideation process, assess ideas for customer fit and develop new product and business models for development of sustainable start-up companies in eastern North Carolina. Innovators will have access to resources such as ECU's Idea Lab, Innovation Design Lab, MakerBot Innovation Center and the SEED incubator.

The project is the vision of Marti Van Scott, director of the ECU Office of Technology Transfer, to improve the process of identifying, assessing and commercializing new product opportunities generated by ECU faculty, staff and students. The first phase, which begins Oct. 20, consists of a five-week program in which participants will be introduced to the concepts of ideation, business model canvas, customer discovery and value proposition.

"To me, the exciting thing about this program is that it emphasizes the entrepreneurial process," Mike Harris, director of the Miller School of Entrepreneurship in the ECU College of Business, said.

Along with key partners from the Office of Innovation and Economic Development, the Office of Technology Transfer, the Miller School of Entrepreneurship, and the Small Business & Technology Development Center, I-Corps@ECU will contribute toward the development of an entrepreneurial culture on the college campus, generate more innovations and result in new start-up ventures and jobs for the region.

I-Corps@ECU will support 30 entrepreneurial teams per year and provide seed grants of up to $3,000 per team to help fund customer discovery and prototype development activities.

ECU's pipeline of commercialized inventions includes the SpeechEasy™ Fluency Aid, as well as various research and educational tools. Inventions showing promise for future development include new models for diagnosis and treatment of cancer, autoimmune disease and cardiovascular disease and new tools to improve educational outcomes.

For more information or to register, visit their website here.

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