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NSF I-Corps Curriculum
and Business Model Canvas

Our skills development effort leverages the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) approach which fosters entrepreneurship and leads to commercial translation of federally funded research.  I-Corps has developed a curriculum through which investigators learn techniques to identify customers, validate commercial value propositions, create appropriate development plans, and build successful business models for commercialization. 

The curriculum focuses on developing a Business Model Canvas that is comprised of nine key elements needed to qualify the commercial viability of inventions and to define product solutions.  Through this process, teams of investigators develop a better understanding of the necessary requirements for product commercialization.  The goal is to increase their knowledge and skill to result in advancing their technology to market.  A key expectation is that the investigative team “get out of the lab” to conduct interviews and test the commercial value of their innovations.

NCAI-CC has taken the I-Corps curriculum and has tailored it to address the specific and unique criteria for commercializing biomedical/life science technologies.  We now deliver this biomedical I-Corps curriculum in conjunction with I-Corps@Ohio (icorpsohio.org/), reaching teams of investigators from institutions through the state of Ohio.

Business Model Canvas Elements and Examples: 
The business model canvas will be different for every product.  The key elements are listed in linked diagram, and examples of aspects to be considered in each category are listed below.  This is by no means a comprehensive list.

Value Proposition.  The key quantifiable advantages and benefits that set your product apart from competition or standard of care.

  • Intellectual property/exclusivity
  • Lower cost
  • Increased productivity
  • Better outcomes

Customer Segments.  The specific users and/or patients to which the product is targeted.

  • Disease category, clinical indication.
  • Use setting; e.g., in-patient, out-patient, home.
  • Procedure setting; e.g., O.R., cath lab, imaging suite.
  • Geographic region

Key Activities.  The development elements that will deliver the value proposition.

  • Product development
  • Preclinical testing
  • Clinical trials
  • Regulatory approval

Key Resources.  The necessary physical, intellectual, human, and financial assets to develop and deliver the product.

  • Patent attorney
  • Clinical, regulatory consultants
  • Key opinion leaders, advisors
  • Conferences, seminars, publications

Costs.  The various costs for developing and commercializing the product.

  • Research and development costs
  • Clinical and regulatory costs
  • Manufacturing costs
  • Marketing, selling and distribution costs

Key Partnerships.  Strategic engagements to provide the complete end-to-end solution to the customer.

  • Product development and testing partners 
  • Manufacturing partners
  • Clinical research organizations
  • Marketing/distribution/corporate partners

Customer Relationships.  How you will interact with the customer throughout the lifetime of product sale and support.

  • Supply chain, purchasing department
  • Customer training
  • Service and support
  • Direct-to-consumer

Channels.  How the product will be marketed, sold and delivered to customers.

  • Technology licensee, acquirer
  • Direct sales organization
  • Distributers
  • E-commerce

Revenue Streams.  Sources of funds to develop the product, and how it will be paid for in the market.

  • Grants, Sponsored research, venture capital, corporate investment
  • Reimbursement coding and coverage
  • Insurance payers, government payers
  • Licensing, royalty streams

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