UWM’s NSF I-Corps Spring 2021 Session Wraps Up!

I-Corps Program participants from summer of 2019.

Congratulations to the Spring’21 Milwaukee I-Corps program graduates!

The 18th cohort of the Milwaukee I-Corps Site Program concluded March 29th. During the five-week program teams of graduate students, researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs explored business model around their research ideas and discoveries using the Lean Launch approach. To date 156 teams have completed the program. Those teams have conducted a total of nearly 6,000 customer interviews where they have tested specific market-based hypotheses with various stakeholders.

Teams that participate in the I-Corps program are supported by coaches and mentors – an approach that is at the core of the I-Corps process. Each I-Corps team is matched with a mentor to guide them through the process, coach them on lean launch, and help connect them with customers and stakeholders. These mentors are industry leaders, successful entrepreneurs, early-stage investors, and veterans of the I-Corps program.

“Having been a mentor in the Milwaukee I-Corps Program and working closely with startups in a corporate venture capital group, I view customer discovery as absolutely essential. The I-Corps Program provides an accessible methodology for participants to hold their big visions for a product or service, while validating with the voice of the customer.” – Erin Henry, Ph.D., Senior Director of Venture Platforms for Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures.

Mentors provide focused interactions with their teams over the course of the intense five-week period. However, the team isn’t the only one benefitting from the connection with their mentor. Mentors benefit by connecting with Milwaukee innovators and entrepreneurs and in practicing the lean launch process. Additionally, mentors report that they were able to bring their experiences in I-Corps back into their own workplaces. Several mentors who were also leaders of early-stage companies came back to participate in the program as a team to help their own startups gain from the I-Corps experience.

The Milwaukee I-Corps site is accepting applications for the next cohort starting in July – details and application available at icorpsmilwaukee.org. If you are interested in mentoring in the program, please reach out to Brian Thompson via the UWM LEC contact form (include your name, email, select NSF I-Corps, and comment that you would like to connect with Brian Thompson regarding I-Corps). Read on below for a list of participating teams.

Spring’21 I-Corps Teams

SPA Coatings (UWM) – Team: Reed Heintzkill, Filip Zemajtis, Marina Kozhukhova, Konstantin Sobolev, Adam Wickersham (Mentor)
“… superhydrophobic photocatalytic antimicrobial (SPA) coatings with applications in healthcare …”

Pharma Compound Screening (UWM) – Team: Vali Raicu, Gabriel Biener, Dammar Badu, Dhruba Adhikari, Mentor: Rick Janezic (Mentor)
“… software and compound screening services for pharmaceutical industry…”

Backbone (CUW, UW-Madison) – Team: Olivia Beaudoin, Zach Lowery, Lindsey Roddy (Mentor)
“… Patient handling equipment …”

Readyspacer (CUW) – Team: Jay Mathur, Matthew Korman, Brian Specht, Mark Ship (Mentor)
“… improved inhaler biomedical device …”

Nursing Resiliency (UWM) – Team: Aimee Herron, Megan Johnson, Jamie Rich, Kayt Havens (Mentor)
“… nursing resiliency toolkit…”

Badger Dental (MCW) – Team: David Poetker, Matthew Roggensack, Jacob Bjork, Scott Rasmussen (Mentor)
“… dental stabilizing device…”

Bettr (MCW) – Team: Brad Crotty, Melek Somai, John Heinen (Mentor)
“… digital healthcare platform …”

Printiccs (MSOE) – Team: Caleb Nolan, Jacob Boynewicz, Nicholas Leclerc, Gene Wright (Mentor)
“… 3D modeling and printing solution …”

Mobile Water Recycling (UWM) – Team: Charlie Paradis, Josh Swigart, Joe Hamann (Mentor)
“… self-contained mobile system to make drilling water suitable for irrigation …”

Virtu (MSOE) – Team: Benjamin Blacklock, Shelly Sommerfield, Matthew Mulhern, Kwadwo Owusu-Ofori (Mentor)
“… virtual reality games for K-12 students with dynamic storylines to reinforce curriculum…”