January 29, 2016—The University of Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE) is continuing to spur innovative thinking among institutions in the region. Since 2014, U-M has spent time partnering with various universities—Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University, Lawrence Tech University and more—sharing best practices on how to turn entrepreneurial theories and research into practice. Western Michigan University (WMU) is now partnering with CFE to create a space and resource for faculty to make their venture dreams a reality.

U-M CFE’s Introduction to Customer Discovery Program (ICD) helps students and faculty alike realize the potential for their technologies or ideas in the market. The CFE created this program through a “Train the Trainers” grant funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

WMU’s ICD program will officially begin on March 16, 2016 with a cohort of 12 teams of faculty and graduate students looking to bring their research to today’s market. Over the course of four weeks, these teams will be leaving the safety of their research facilities and embarking on a journey of customer discovery, market research, and immersion into a world of intense entrepreneurial competition. Beyond just exploring the entrepreneurial networks available in their fields, teams will be tackling the application portion of entrepreneurship—Is my solution useful to a living problem?

Additional information about the program: The Introduction to Customer Discovery program is based on the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps) curriculum, which has a very simple goal: take a team of researchers and add savvy business people, to make innovating scientific breakthroughs marketable. This first-of-its-kind curriculum is an intense and immersive program where teams are able to validate the sustainability of their businesses.

ICD is perfect for early stage projects looking to assess commercial opportunity, and gives teams a taste of what they could expect if they participated in a National I-Corps program. Teams participating in the ICD program become eligible to apply for a NSF I-Corps program, which brings even more in-depth mentoring, customer discovery work and potentially $50,000 in funding.

If you are interested in participating in the WMU’s Introduction to Customer Discovery cohort please contact Lara Hobson at lara.hobson@wmich.edu.