Miami CTSI

CTSI and UInnovation Successfully Launch I-Corps@UM-CTSI for Entrepreneurship Training


Participants do a workflow activity during the I-Corps@UM-CTSI short course that took place from May to June. Photo by Dr. Suhrud Rajguru

Through funding by National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and UInnovation, the Miami CTSI successfully wrapped up the University’s first I-Corps™ entrepreneurial research training program called I-Corps@UM-CTSI.

This program, part of the Hemispheric Innovation Hub initiative, is aimed at accelerating the development and commercialization of new products, services, medical devices, diagnostics and therapeutics arising from ongoing research and educational projects at the University of Miami. The I-Corps™ program is designed to support training that will help entrepreneurial researchers overcome key obstacles along the path of innovation and commercialization.

I-Corps WorkshopThe program launched on April 4 with an Innovation Workshop. More than 60 researchers and students from across the three campuses learned through real-world examples how to extend their discoveries beyond the laboratory, gain customer insights to translate innovations into viable commercial products, and identify the best product-to-market fit.

Participants noted in post-workshop feedback the importance of being able to effectively describe and convey what your technology does and who it serves.

An intensive, 5-week Short Course, which followed a month later, comprised of nine teams of principal investigators and entrepreneurial leads (staff and students) that were selected from a competitive application process. Some teams included researchers from:

  • The Department of Pathology developing technology to isolate and capture tumor cells (Circuologix Inc.)
  • Neurological Surgery developing targeted gene delivery for management of severe chronic pain (Levageenz)
  • Biomedical Engineering fabricating novel organs-on-chip devices for drug discovery (Dynamic Biological Systems)
  • Civil Engineering developing novel solutions for living quarters focused in disaster and crisis situations (Origami Home)

The short course allowed researchers to master the entrepreneurial concept of testing hypotheses through customer discovery. It helped them develop a compelling business case for the technology, focused on value propositions, customer segments, and additional stakeholders.

The course-included didactic lectures combined with hands-on classroom exercises and weekly one-on-one meetings instructors. The lead instructors were Suhrud Rajguru, Ph.D., Associate Professor in Biomedical Engineering and Otolaryngology, Robert Storey, a national instructor for both the NSF and NIH’s I-Corps™ programs and Norma Kenyon, Ph.D., Chief Innovation Officer of the Miller School and UM Vice Provost for Innovation.

Respondents to a post-course survey said the course gave them insight into what it takes to bring a product from the lab into the real world. They also said it was valuable to get advice from their peers on how to deal with various problems in the process of product development.

To learn more about future I-Corps@UM-CTSI events, join the CTSI listserv.

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