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Ventureprise Charlotte Launch

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Purpose

The Ventureprise Charlotte Launch program, funded by the National Science Foundation, is designed to help innovators through the technology commercialization process.  It will catalyze teams whose technology concepts are likely commercialization candidates.  Teams will assess business opportunities using Lean LaunchPad methods.

Eligible ideas

Eligible ideas will be developed primarily by UNC Charlotte students and faculty. Proposed ideas and technologies must be in a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) field. This may include but is not limited to proposed ventures related to physical sciences, life sciences, software, informatics, energy, metrology and others.

teams

Each team will have at least three members including one of more Entrepreneurial Leads, an Academic Lead, and a Business Mentor. Ventureprise Charlotte Launch is currently open only to teams with Entrepreneurial and Academic Leads from UNC Charlotte.

  • Academic Lead: A faculty member at UNC Charlotte.
  • Entrepreneurial Lead: An undergraduate or graduate student, post-doctoral researcher, other student or professional staff, with relevant knowledge of the technology and a deep commitment to investigate the commercial landscape surrounding the innovation.
  • Business Mentor: Each team selected into the program will be assigned a mentor with entrepreneurial or commercialization experience. A selected team can use their own identified mentor upon approval of the Ventureprise staff. 

Program

The program provides UNC Charlotte faculty and students with infrastructure, commercialization advice, training and modest funding (awards of $1,000 to $3,000 per team) to identify potential customers and prepare for more substantial funding opportunities. Participating teams will:

  • Engage in a customer discovery process;
  • Develop a practical understanding of  commercialization and entrepreneurship concepts;
  • Reach a go/no go decision about commercialization of the team’s specific idea.

The program will be offered annually in summer, fall, and spring. Each program includes eight weeks of twice-weekly sessions with a teaching team, fellow participants, and guest experts. Sessions offer specific content instruction and discussion as well as relevant entrepreneurs and professionals who will share real-world experiences. The focal point of the program is direct interaction between participants and prospective customers. This customer discovery process is assessed and organized by using the business model canvas.

Ventureprise Charlotte Launch can be summarized as a boot-camp for innovators that is designed to challenge participants at every turn. The teaching team, business mentors, and guests are all experienced and prepared to provide direct feedback that can accelerate the commercialization process.

time commitment

Entrepreneurial Leads will be required to participate in eight weeks of programming required 5 to 6 hours per week. Additionally, they will spend 3 to 5 hours per week completing approximately 30 customer interviews prior to the end of the program

outcome

Teams will be expected to make a commercial viability decision at the end of the program. Successful completion makes teams eligible for additional NSF opportunities including the $50,000 NSF I-Corps Team program. The commercialization insights developed will enable teams to create compelling applications for multiple funding opportunities such as:

  • $50K NSF I-Corps Team
  • $200K NSF PFI: Air TT
  • $150K NSF SBIR Phase I
  • $750K NSF SBIR Phase II
  • $500K NSF SBIR IIB
  • $50K+ Charlotte Venture Challenge and Pitch Day
  • $50K NC IDEA Grant
  • $50K Venturewell Student e-team Program

team selection

The Ventureprise Charlotte Launch program is offered three times annually and is limited to 10 to 12 teams per cohort. Applications for the Fall, 2016 are due on September 23, 2016.

applications and information

To request a Ventureprise Charlotte Launch application or for questions about the program, please contact Mr. Devin Collins, Co-Principal Investigator, at devin.collins@uncc.edu

national science foundation

The Ventureprise Charlotte Launch program was selected in March 2015 as an NSF I-Corps Site in a nationally competitive solicitation by the National Science Foundation. The selection designates UNC Charlotte as one of 51 universities in the NSF National Innovation Network.

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