With 16 participating teams of innovators and entrepreneurs, the third edition of I-Corps Puerto Rico program kicked off this past weekend at the University of Puerto Rico’s Mayagüez campus.
This edition, made possible through a collaboration agreement between the University of Puerto Rico and Grupo Guayacán Inc., (CGI) marks the first time the program is offered at a local university and outside of the San Juan metropolitan area.
“After two successful I-Corps cohorts in 2015, we are proud to broaden the program’s reach to the western region. We’re also excited to partner directly with UPRM, a leading institution in research and innovation and one of GGI’s key allies,” said Laura Cantero, Executive Director of Grupo Guayacán.
Cantero also pointed to the fact that seven of the participating teams are directly affiliated with the UPR-Mayagüez campus.
I-Corps Puerto Rico is an intensive program that seeks to advance the commercialization of innovations through scalable business models. The program is offered through a partnership between GGI, the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, and the Georgia Institute of Technology, whose VentureLab manages the regional node for Innovation Corps, offered by the National Science Foundation.
I-Corps participants go through an intensive customer discovery process, which allows them to validate the commercial potential of their innovations through interviews with potential clients. The program includes a three day launch, two full-day sessions and a two day conclusion workshop where each team makes a final presentation.
“Through programs like I-Corps Puerto Rico we support local universities so they can incentivize the commercialization of science and technology based research. Our objective is that, within seven years, Puerto Rico becomes a world recognized leader in innovation driven enterprises, which strengthen the budding entrepreneurial ecosystem on the island,” said Lucy Crespo, CEO of the Puerto Rico Science Trust.
“The GT VentureLab team is enthusiastic to continue collaborating with Grupo Guayacán in order to provide local universities, in this case UPR-M, with a series of concepts and methodologies that will allow these 16 teams to kick start their business ideas,” said Keith McGreggor, Director of GT’s VentureLab, experienced entrepreneur, and veteran NSF I-Corps instructor.
“Through a rigorous Customer Discovery process, I-Corps participants will learn about their main customers and their specific needs, which is, without a doubt, the first step in commercializing their innovations and developing scalable high impact ventures from Puerto Rico,” he said.
The teams participating in this I-Corps cohort represent the UPR’s Mayagüez and Carolina campuses, as well as the InterAmerican University at San Germán, and entrepreneurial support organizations such as the Puerto Rico Small Business Technology Development Center and the Mayagüez-based technology incubator, VITEC.
Some of the industries represented through the cohort are: construction and infrastructure, communications, education, energy, information technology, materials, environment, and healthcare. The group also includes 16 mentors who work side by side with the teams supporting them throughout the customer discovery and business model design. The third edition of I-Corps Puerto Rico will conclude May 1st, 2016.