Our Mission

To bring U-M world-class talent, multidisciplinary research and extensive network to bear on the global problems of today and beyond. To meet these challenges, we provide an experiential education to engineers in academia, industry and society, so that they not only possess a deep technical excellence, but the creativity, industrial awareness and the innovation skills needed to see solutions implemented.


I-Corps™ aims to disrupt an institutional approach to research by taking faculty, students and staff out of their native environment – the lab – and placing them in the real world to interface with potential customers. From one-on-one mentoring in ideation to full de-risking and funding support, we have a nationally-recognized staff of instructors, trainers and mentors that make the transition from lab to market a smooth, efficient and valuable process for participants, regardless of the outcome. Because our programming philosophy has proven to be effective, the CFE researcher team now trains and teaches other universities and organizations across the country on how to successfully run their own programs. In 2012, U-M was selected by the National Science Foundation as one of the first two universities to offer the I-Corps™ program. As a node, the CFE serves as the Midwest hub for education, infrastructure and research that engage academic scientists and engineers in innovation and deliver the I-Corps™ curriculum at various levels. We offer a 4-week intensive Introduction to Customer Discovery course, an Industry-specific program as well as the 7-week NSF National I-Corps program.

Introduction to Customer Discovery
This course covers the two main concepts in I-Corps™, value propositions and customer segments.  By defining what these two concepts mean as it relates to a given technology, it provides the framework that any faculty member will need to go on to the National NSF I-Corps™ program.

Industry-Focused I-Corps
This program is for faculty who believe they have found a particular product-market fit within a specific industry market and need more one-on-one mentoring, support and industry connections to further validate their business model.  This curriculum allows for greater peer-to-peer learning as teams can relate and share knowledge centered around similar types of technologies.

National NSF I-Corps
This program is designed to prepare scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and to accelerate the transfer of cutting-edge, NSF-funded research into commercial success. Through extensive customer engagement, teams are able to validate the sustainability of their technology.  The curriculum is an immersive 7-week program designed to avoid building a product that no one wants; the number one reason startups fail.

TechLab at Mcity

TechLab at Mcity provides emerging transportation technology startups direct access to U-M experts and resources, including Mcity, where the world’s leading researchers are driving the next generation of mobility. This incubator looks for companies that transfer driver ownership from human to machine, increase vehicle and infrastructure connectivity, and are willing to provide hand-on learning experience to students. TechLab companies are matched with U-M Engineering students that assist in developing their technology during a semester-long 3-credit independent study course.

Interested companies can contact Jane Sugiyama, janesugi@umich.edu

Student Internship Fall 2017 Application coming soon…