Ohio University debuts three new experiential entrepreneurship programs for students and researchers

Jasmine Grillmeier
December 10, 2015

Faculty, staff and students at Ohio University are giving thumbs-up to three new programs added to the University’s entrepreneurial ecosystem this year.

Two of the three additions — Bobcat LaunchPad (MGT 3735: Entrepreneurship in Practice) and the Bobcat Research Course: Moving Innovation to Commercialization — were offered through the Center for Entrepreneurship, a partnership between the College of Business and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. The third, I-Corps@Ohio, is a statewide initiative funded by the Ohio Board of Regents.

Introduced during first summer session 2015, Bobcat LaunchPad simulates what startups and entrepreneurs experience when starting a business. Students learn how to use a business model to brainstorm each part of a company, practice customer development outside of the classroom and rapidly develop a prototype or concept based on customer and market feedback gathered during the course. Upon completion of the course, students and teams can compete for admission into Ohio University’s Bobcat LaunchPad mentoring program, access up to $25,000 grant and investment funding opportunities via TechGROWTH Ohio and admission to other mentoring and funding opportunities designed to help start ventures.

“I would absolutely recommend the Bobcat Launchpad,” Alex Kneier, a student double majoring in entrepreneurship and management and strategic leadership, said. “It was a jam-packed seven weeks that propelled the concept I was working on.”

The Bobcat Research Course: Moving Innovation to Commercialization, is a free four-session seminar that provides developing researchers insight into academic entrepreneurship through mini-modules and a variety of speakers from within and outside of the University. The Office of the Vice President of Research and Creative Activity sponsored the course.

“Coming up with an idea is difficult on its own, but the rest of the product lifecycle can be even more overwhelming,” graduate student Eric Martin, who is completing his master’s degree in biomedical engineering, said. “This course gives a solid overview of the resources that are available in Southeast Ohio to help one navigate this lifecycle.”

This course debuted in fall 2015, running weekly from Sept. 22 through Oct. 13. The session topics included “Ohio University: An Engine for Innovation and Economic Development,” “Business Skills for Faculty and Researchers,” “Value Creation and Commercialization Pathway” and “Technology Commercialization: Licensing vs. New Venture Formation.” By completing the Bobcat Research Course, three teams working on technologies with a bright future have been identified as eligible to apply for I-Corp@Ohio, the third program that debuted this year.

I-Corps@Ohio is a statewide commercialization program offered on a competitive basis twice a year (May-June and July-August) to teams of research faculty or staff members, students and executive mentors from eligible Ohio universities and colleges. Modeled after the National Science Foundation’s successful Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program created in 2012, the Ohio program is designed to validate the market potential of technologies, as well as validate and launch start-up companies.

Teams that receive I-Corps@Ohio funding are required to complete an intensive seven-week training program with curriculum designed to help aspiring entrepreneurial teams understand the market for their technology, develop a commercialization strategy and attain new skills useful for long-term careers in research and development. Up to 20 awards of around $15,000 will be given each year through this program, with 10 awards given per cohort.

This program’s first cohort was hosted by The Ohio State University in summer 2015. Thirty teams applied and eight competed.

I-Corps@Ohio program was launched by the Ohio Department of Higher Education and implemented by six founding institutions – Ohio University, University of Akron, University of Cincinnati, Lorain County Community College, The Ohio State University and University of Toledo – with the support and funding of the Ohio Board of Regents.

Students interested in learning more about the Bobcat LaunchPad (MGT 3735: Entrepreneurship in Practice) or the Bobcat Research Course: Moving Innovation to Commercialization, should contact Lee Groeschl at groeschl@ohio.edu.

Researchers interested in applying for I-Corps@Ohio, can read the details here or contact Faith Knutsen at knutsenf@ohio.edu.