Co-founder and Leader of the Lean Startup Movement, Jerry Engel, Kicks off I-Corps Program at UCF

Jerry Engel Kicksoff I-Corps Program at UCF

(L-R) Svetlana Shtrom, Director of UCF Technology Transfer; Blaire Martin, Director of Florida Angel Nexus; Jerry Engel, National Faculty Director of NSF I-Corps; Henriette Schoen, Assistant Director of UCF Research Information Systems; Christa Santos, Marketing Director of UCF Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Co-founder and leader of the Lean Startup Movement, Jerry Engel, made several special appearances in Central Florida in January to kick off the official debut of the I-Corps program at UCF. His presentations centered on the organic innovation ecosystem required to create the culture and infrastructure necessary to support successful growth of startup companies and the foundation of the I-Corps curriculum, the Lean Startup Method. The curriculum teaches entrepreneurial teams the importance of discovery, talking to customers, validating hypotheses, and successfully moving a product forward into the marketplace. Teams are made up of an entrepreneurial lead, principal investigator, and industry mentor.

Engel engaged with faculty and students in attendance to challenge the typical entrepreneurial paradigm of “what?” with the simple questions of “who?” and “why?” As part of the discovery process, I-Corps teams are required to conduct 100 face-to-face customer interviews within a six week period to ask these questions. Engel shared how this customer discovery and development process leads to an enlightened understanding of the customer pain that is often different than the problem the teams originally set out to solve.

UCF is one of fifteen I-Corps Sites across the country, and the first one in the state of Florida. The inaugural training course of entrepreneurial teams is currently underway. We look forward to seeing how these teams and their innovations will have evolved after the 10 week program to meet customer needs and impact the Central Florida ecosystem.

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UCF has been selected by the National Science foundation (NSF) to provide Florida’s first implementation of one of the agency’s flagship programs, an I-Corps Site. The I-Corps Site’s purpose is to foster innovation among faculty and students, promoting regional coordination and linkages in the innovation ecosystem, as well as develop a National Innovation Network. The primary goal of NSF I-Corps is to provide university scientists and researchers the program, process, and resources to investigate and validate the commercialization of their science. UCF has one of the nation’s best innovation and entrepreneurial networks and is one of 15 universities nationwide that is leading an I-Corps Site program. The UCF I-Corps program is administered by the university’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), a department that consolidates and coordinates UCF’s major innovation and entrepreneurship support activities.

Jerry Engel is a leader in the Lean Startup movement. Collaborating closely with Steve Blank, chief architect of the Lean LaunchPad method, he helped develop the curriculum and co-authored the LaunchPad Educators Guide. He has taught the Lean LaunchPad at U.C. Berkeley and across the U.S. as National Faculty Director of the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program, which has trained more than 300 teams of the nation’s leading scientists. Internationally he is supervising programs in Asia and Europe. Additionally, as Faculty Director of a highly rated faculty development program in the U.S., conducted a Berkeley, Stanford and Columbia, he has trained several hundred faculty in the method. Professor Engel is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the 2010 recipient of the NCIIA – Olympus Corporation Lifetime of Educational Innovation Award.