TVC Launches Lean Canvas Program

Matt Gardner, business development manager at TVC, leading a Lean Canvas discussion

TVC Launches Lean Canvas Program

Typical technology development models are good at explaining how a product goes from ideation to becoming a scalable product ready for the marketplace. Most of these models assume, however, that the technology being advanced will actually have customers who will purchase it when it becomes a product. In recent years, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has found that this assumption, particularly in academic research settings, is a big one to make. Simply put, a sizable number of inventions at universities are developed with little thought towards whether there will be customers willing to purchase what they have discovered.

The NSF founded its Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) program to help faculty take into account broader commercialization perspectives in their research. The NSF encourages select grantees to participate in its I-Corps™ Lean LaunchPad curriculum, which was developed by bestselling author and serial entrepreneur Steve Blank.

In early 2016, TVC created a customized version of the Lean LaunchPad for U technologies. Called the “Lean Canvas,” TVC’s curriculum, which is not under I-Corps™, draws heavily from Blank, but puts more of a focus on achieving business milestones than NSF’s program does.

TVC’s Lean Canvas program lasts seven weeks and is launched once a month. Teams are formed around each technology and are given a $4,500 drawdown budget. The goal for each invention is threefold. First, teams are to validate that the technology addresses an actual problem that real, potential customers are experiencing. Second, they are to validate that the technology solves that problem and that potential customers would purchase the product the team is developing. Third, they are to understand how large the market potential for their technology is. All of this validation requires that the teams conduct a sizable number of interviews with potential customers.

The story, “TVC’s Lean Canvas Program Empowers Developers to Improve Ear Imaging” on page 38, documents a common occurrence in the Lean Canvas program: technologies making significant pivots to their core offerings based on the feedback they receive from potential customers. These changes, says Matt Gardner, business development manager at TVC, are making U technologies more valuable to potential licensees, entrepreneurs, and investors as they are aligning these discoveries more precisely to the market.

Technologies or U spinouts interested in being a part of TVC’s Lean Canvas program should contact their business and technology development representative.

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