Whether you’re eager to get inspired or have an idea you’re ready to launch, Innovate@BU’s resources exist to guide students through the process of transforming an idea into real impact.
The Innovation Pathway is a process to foster and support all forms of innovation created by current students. It will guide you to toward the resources, and opportunities that will help you to develop your ventures through its different phases. This process is applicable to all forms of ventures: social impact, nonprofit, creative, cultural, and for-profit.
The Pathway consists of four phases – Get Inspired, Walk, Run and Fly that will help you push your idea forward. The Walk and Run phase includes a formal pitch opportunity to further validate the idea, receive constructive feedback, and funding.
For more information about each phase, check out the Innovation Pathway Guide.
The Innovation Pathway is made possible by Cynthia Cohen (MET’77)
The Innovate@BU Pathway will:
- Help you apply a methodical approach to starting a new venture of any form.
- Provide a support system as you encounter challenges and obstacles.
- Supply you with consistent resources during each stage. These include advising, funding opportunities, workshops, networking, mentoring, and more.
- Help track your growth and success.
In order to qualify for the Innovate@BU Pathway, you must be a current BU student (undergraduate or graduate) and be one of the founding team members.
Explore the stages and their activities below:
Get Inspired: Explore an Idea
Start exploring innovation and entrepreneurship through events, student clubs, academics, and collaborative activities across campus. Begin by signing up on the Hive (See Instructions here), Innovate@BU’s online community!
- Create a personal profile on the Hive (See Instructions here) to see internship opportunities, BU ventures, and meet other entrepreneurial minded students.
- Attend an Infro (Info + Intro) Session.
- Meet the Startup Manager.
- Join a registered team on the Innovation Pathway OR commit to an idea you’ll pursue in the Pathway.
Ready to transition to Walk?
Congrats on completing all required activities of this phase! Fill out the form below for the Startup Manager to review your progress and promote you to Walk phase.
Walk: Validate Your Idea
The Walk Stage will introduce you to the tools and programs to validate your idea. Successful completion of this stage will allow you to receive funding for your new venture.
- Share your venture at Idea Night and get feedback from other students
- Attend Innovate@BU Expert’s office hours to discuss your business model and review key hypotheses.
- Complete a Lean canvas
- Develop and validate key hypothesis through customer interviews, experimentation and minimum viable product
- Work on venture consistently
- Create a venture profile on Hive
Ready to Transition to Run?
You’ve validated your idea! In order to move to the Run stage, you will need to pitch to a panel of alumni and faculty. You will need to demonstrate that you have validated your idea with customer/user interviews and other experimentations. If successful, you will receive a $1000 grant.
Use the form below to apply to pitch and transition to Run. The pitch session will be done to see if you have successfully completed all required activities of this stage.
Run: Launch. Make More Progress.
This stage will connect you with BU resources that will help you grow your idea and release it to the world!
- Develop a version of your solution/product
- Have a detailed launch plan
- Prepare timeline/roadmap for next 12 months
- Present at an off-campus community event
Ready to Transition to Fly?:
In order to move to the Fly stage, you will need to pitch to a panel of external judges. If successful, you will receive a $2000 grant. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.
Use the form below to apply to pitch and transition to Fly. The pitch session will be done to see if you have successfully completed all required activities of this stage.
Fly: Scale the Business.
Take your venture to the next level beyond BU. You have a product or service that is showing great traction and you are ready to scale. Get introduced to key contacts in the Boston ecosystem including investors, mentors, and accelerator
- Secure funding/grants/self sustained
- Hired few key employees and complete the management team
- Have paying customers/users of product or service
- Launch the product!
Once you have completed this phase, you will be considered a celebrated alumnus of the Innovation Pathway! Fill out the form below to stay in our network and come back to BU as speakers and/or mentors.
Recommended Activities for All Stages
Recommended BU activities and resources:
- Sign up for the Innovate@BU email list to receive updates on weekly events and opportunities in the BUild Lab IDG Capital Student Innovation Center (your innovation space on campus).
- Join innovation-related clubs. The BU Entrepreneurship Club is a great place to start. They attend company treks, host guest speakers, and events including the BU Startup Fair.
- The three Innovation leadership clubs are Undergraduate E-Club, Graduate E-Club and BU Venture Accelerator .
- Apply to the BU Venture Accelerator to validate your idea. As part of this program, you will be provided with tools, mentors, and resources. The BU Venture Accelerator accepts applications at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters. Reach out to email@example.com for more information
- Participate in the undergraduate E-Club’s student group innovation activities like StartupChallenge and InnovateEDU.
- Attend BUild Lab’s In Real Life Workshops to learn innovation and entrepreneurial skills.
- Share your project at our monthly Idea Night and get feedback from other students.
- Register for innovation courses such as the Cross Campus Challenge, The Creative Economy and Social Impact, Innovate@BU HUB co-curricular and more.
- Consult with the BU Law Clinic for free legal advice.
- Enter the New Venture Competition, a multi-pitch competition with two tracks (tech and social impact ideas) for a chance to win up to $15,000!
- Connect with additional BU resources to further drive progress and traction.
- Apply to BU Summer Accelerator, a 10-week program to help you validate and/or launch an idea. Applications are open from February to April.
Recommended resources for alumni:
- Utilize the BUild Lab for office space for up to two years or until you’ve raised $500,000.
- Attend alumni networking events such as BU Innovators Night to find investors, donors, customers, partners in the BU community.
- Alumni are encouraged to come back to BU as speakers and/or mentors. If interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- What is the Innovation Pathway? The Innovation Pathway is a process to foster and support all forms of innovation created by current BU students. It will guide you to find the inspiration, resources, and opportunities that will help you to develop your ventures through its different phases. This process is applicable to all forms of ventures: social impact, nonprofit, creative, cultural, and for-profit.
- Can I work with students outside of BU on my project/idea? Yes. At least one of the founding member(s) is currently enrolled at Boston University as an undergraduate, graduate.
- What if I have an idea but I am not interested in turning it into a startup? We support students with any ideas that lead to impact. Learn more about other opportunities at our next Infro Session.
- How do I demonstrate project progress? After completing the required steps of your current phase and filling out the forms, the Startup Manager and/or pitch judges will decide depending on your phase.
- I am a graduate student. Can I participate? Yes, if you or at least one of your co-founder(s) is currently enrolled at Boston University.
- I have an idea for a non-profit, can I participate? Yes. We welcome all projects/ventures.
- I am working on a project with a professor. Can I participate? Yes. However, you still need to complete the Innovation Pathway Entry Form.
- I started my project at EPIC/Spark!/Other BU place, what is the process of participation? We are a campus-wide initiative and welcome any current student startups. The process will be the same and starts with the Innovation Pathway entry form.
- How long will the Pathway take to complete? The timing completely depends on you and your project.
- If I stop working on the project, will I be penalized for it? We support a culture of experimentation to learn what does and does not work as we have seen many startups pivot from their original idea. For this reason, there is no formal penalty but we expect students to take their ideas very seriously.
- What are the potential risks of participating in the Pathway? At the BUild Lab, we believe in a collaborative space where you have the freedom to create to your heart’s desire. We rarely encounter any issues regarding idea theft but if you have concerns about confidentiality, copyright infringements, patents etc., we highly recommend you consult with the BU Law Clinic.
- Can I start the Pathway in the middle/end of the semester? Yes, you can start any time. However, you need to complete the Innovation Pathway Entry Form in order to start the Pathway.
- Can I get course credit for working on this? The Innovation Pathway offers funding, resources, and guidance but no course credit. If you are a first-year Terrier, the Pathway will be offered through a BU HUB co-curricular. You can sign up here at the start of the semester.
- I was not approved to move to the next stage but I have incorporated the feedback and made the relevant changes, can I pitch again? Yes! We offer regular pitching opportunities and our hope is that you leverage feedback and succeed.