The Innovation Strike Teams is a CFE-run program that consists of interdisciplinary teams of U-M graduate students from Engineering, Law, Medicine, Business and other programs that assess startup opportunities and provide them with actionable, data-based feedback. This ‘learning-by-doing’ approach on a shoestring budget makes it efficient, effective and attractive for the startup projects, funding agencies and students.

The program is currently closed to new applicants. Interested applicants can email to indicate interest with attached CV for the future.


Program is open to graduate students in any program. Upper-level undergraduates can also apply.

Currently program is in session and is closed to new applicants.

Interested applicants can email to indicate interest with attached CV for the future.


 Now – January 16  Applications Open
 January 31 – February 6  Interviews
 February 7 – February 21  Training and Orientation Sessions
 February 22 – April 18  Work on Live Projects



This program is laid out as a semester-long co-curricular fellowship open to any U of M graduate student, including, but not limited to, Engineering, Business, Medicine or Law. Students will act as consultants and thoroughly investigate, analyze, and propose solutions to project needs within the prescribed timeframe. Students will be trained on the different modules as needed. Students are expected to spend about 5-8 hours each week working on these projects including time spent at the weekly meetings. Students will be paid a small stipend.


Why do we need Innovation Strike Teams?

The Lean LaunchPad method requires startup teams to conduct customer discovery to validate their ideas.  However, early stage teams struggle to ask the right questions and have a difficult time interpreting (the often negative) answers.  This program uses students in a 3rd party discovery capacity to identify the key project risks and provide direction to the startups own discovery process.

What are the Innovation Strike Teams?

The Innovation Strike Teams are cross-functional teams made up of students from Engineering, Law, Business and Medicine that act as a team of consultants and help assess companies/projects from a market, technical, and intellectual property perspective. Via primary and secondary research these teams identify the key issues, gaps, and potential roadblocks for projects from faculty, translational programs, or industry clients.

Who benefits from the Innovation Strike Teams?
  • Teams augment the capability of their clients to conduct market/business investigation saving them time and effort at low (no) cost.
  • Teams provide clients with ‘outside’ view of the project and validate assumptions by collecting the necessary data.
  • Gives students a resume-building experience in a cross-disciplinary team and making an impact on a real-world project.
  • Teams enable granting and funding programs to make better decisions by collecting data from customers, experts, and literature.
What do the Innovation Strike Teams offer?

Clients along with the Strike Team Program Manager will create a Project-Needs Assessment based on the modules listed below. The Innovation Strike Team will then conduct primary research with customers, experts, stakeholders and collect data from secondary research as necessary to fulfill the client needs.



  • Technology capability assessment and comparison
  • IP Assessment – Patent search, FTO, etc.
  • Brainstorming Markets for Technology: finding the problem
  • Product-Market fit and Value Proposition analysis
  • Competitor and other solutions
  • Customer needs assessment and finding
  • Business model assessment (Market risk, scale risk, profitability)
  • Team assessment
  • Investment Thesis
  • Eco-system maps (Patient-flow, Value chain, purchase & clinical decision process)
Who will be served?

Projects/companies from faculty, translational programs, funding programs, industry sponsors will be accepted based on the specificity of the question, availability and fit with student teams, timeline, and the level of commitment.

*Note: Clients are expected to defray the student stipend costs


Proposed clients Stage Needs that will be addressed
Faculty project Very early: idea Research capability with unclear market
Post and pre-Corps team  Early: market/business assessment Support pre- and post ICORPS teams with customer discovery and gap assessment
Current Desai Accelerator company Mature, Seed: customer validation Seed and pre-Series A due diligence; collecting market and competitor data
Tech Arb – feedback on idea viability, customer discovery Very early to early: student projects feedback on idea viability, customer discovery
MBSF teams – Due diligence Mature, Seed level Investment due-diligence
Local VC firms Seed to Pre-Seed, or exploratory work Investment due-diligence, space exploration and tech deep-dive
Externally sourced projects on specific product or prototype – e.g.: Beaumont Early: market/business/tech assessment external sourced projects on specific product or prototype – e.g.: Beaumont
Tech Transfer: licensing &, Venture Center Early or Seed OTT  – licensing, Venture Center teams