About I-Corps@ECU

Led by leaders of innovation at East Carolina University and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, I-Corps@ECU enables interested faculty, staff, students, postdocs and friends of ECU to identify business, research and social challenges, opportunities and solutions by practicing the Lean Launchpad Method. I-Corps@ECU achieves this with guidance from expert mentors, class instruction, educational videos and online coursework. At the conclusion of the program, teams will have built a Business Model Canvas that leads to a go/no-go decision for their potential venture.

At the end of the program teams should be able to:

  • Quantify and clearly communicate the problem of the customer and how their solution aligns with the customer’s problem.
  • Define their customer’s specific characteristics and pain points.
  • Understand how a customer would interact with their venture (Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Fulfillment, Service, Loyalty, and Advocacy).
  • Have a business blueprint for success.


The Lean Launchpad Method

The Lean Launchpad Method for assessing ideas for potential new products or  ventures teaches participants  how to gather and use crucial information to develop an viable business model. It is a proven business-accelerating model adopted by the NSF and many academic institutions.


Participant Expectations

To successfully complete the program, participants must attend all class sessions and perform the required customer discovery interviews. Upon completion, each I-Corps team will have learned to assess their idea using nine principles of the Business Model Canvas: customer segments, value proposition, distribution channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, key resources, key activities, key partners, and cost structure.


Funding, Prototyping and Customer Discovery Opportunities

Teams in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and math) who successfully complete the program may apply for $5,000 to primarily support customer discovery efforts but funds may also be used to develop a prototype, or perform a proof of concept study, to the extent that such efforts support customer discovery. For example, the funds may be used to register and attend meetings and conferences to talk with subject matter experts. Resources at the Innovation Design Laboratory are available to build simple 3D models, as a method of engaging the customer in the discovery process.


Eligible Participants

I-Corps@ECU is available to any faculty, staff, postdoc, student or friend of ECU in any discipline, but funding is available only to those in a STEM discipline.  Team mentorship will be provided by faculty and staff of the Office of Licensing & Commercialization, the College of Business, the Miller School of Entrepreneurship, the Small Business Technology Development Center (SBTDC), and others.


I-Corps@ECU Advisory Committee

Carlyle Rogers
Licensing and Commercialization

Rob Bower
Director, SBTDC

Michael Harris
Miller School of Entrepreneurship

Wayne Godwin
Innovation Design Laboratory

Elizabeth Hodge
Assistant Dean,
Innovations and Strategic Initiatives

David Mayo
Teaching Instructor,
Miller School of Entrepreneurship