SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) — Lawrence Technological University says it has launched a real-world, results-oriented mentoring program to help students, faculty, alumni, innovators, entrepreneurs and companies advance new product ideas and establish new business opportunities.

Michigan I-Corps@LTU, established with funds from the Coleman Foundation and the Kern Family Foundation, is part of a statewide program designed to foster and grow an innovation ecosystem throughout Michigan, and provides participants knowledge about what it takes to successfully commercialize their ideas and focus on meeting customer needs.

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The first nine-week session kicks off on Saturday, Feb. 8. Originating within the National Science Foundation, the I-Corps curriculum provides a real world, hands-on immersive learning experience for innovators in search of a successful business model. Each innovation team will be matched with an industry mentor, develop a greater understanding of its product and how it can benefit customers, find customers and markets, discover what it takes to commercialize a product and the barriers to adoption, expand its network and be eligible for a $1,000 cash prize for the best team.

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“I was impressed with the process, which allowed me to thoroughly examine the core elements of my business model, with specific emphasis on the value proposition, customer requirements and market segments,” said Gordon Maniere, an I-Corps participant who has worked with LTU faculty and students to refine his technology and business model.

“If you’re ready to really advance your innovation, to truly understand who will buy your product and what kind of business you can build, then this is the program for you,” said Paul Garko, team leader for the Michigan I-Corps@LTU Program. “We are offering a nine-week program on Saturdays so that busy students and working professionals can advance their ideas and innovations.”

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For more information, see http://www.ltu.edu/i-corps or contact i-corps@ltu.edu.