Catalyst Program

About the Program

This is a joint program between Technology Development and Innovate@BU, designed to assist BU PIs explore the market viability of their ideas. Too often, we embark on a market-destined idea (a desire to bring our idea to market) without engaging in the laborious, sometimes less exciting, but ultimately vital, work of determining the need for the idea. Using Questrom MBA and doctoral students to talk with potential customers, the objective for the program is to determine what might be the first market need for the idea.

Here’s how it works: The PI puts forth an idea based on the PI’s work at BU. We train a team of students on how to to engage potential customers in markets that may have a need for this solution, using the Lean Launch process. Lean Launch is a method endorsed and implemented by the NSF in their now world famous I-Corps program.

Output from the Program

The students will prepare a final presentation at the end of the program. In that presentation, they’ll answer questions such as:

  • Does a particular market segment need the proposed solution?
  • Who is the customer?
  • Who are the stakeholders (that can influence the decision) but not direct customers?
  • What is the value proposition of the idea for those customers?

Schedule and Process Overview: PI Time Commitment

  • PI proposes an idea and composes a one page summary of the idea (one hour)
  • We organize a student team
  • Students undergo an introductory training on the Lean Launch process
  • PI gives a short presentation about the idea at that training (one hour – PI welcome to attend for the entire day)
  • Students engage in interviews over a six week period
  • Mid-program Zoom meeting (online) with the instructor (PI welcome to attend)
  • Final presentation to invited panel,* including the PIPrincipal Investigator View Boston University's policy on...
  • One hour meeting: 30 minute presentation, 30 minute Q&A

*We invite the PI and outside industry professionals to bring more credibility and visibility to the student’s work.

Successes Thus Far

We’ve conducted three Catalyst Programs thus far for six PIs. The students either “discovered” via their interviews: 1) a new market opportunity not previously envisioned by the PI, 2) a customer need insight, or 3) a different business model not previously envisioned.

How to Register

To learn more about how to participate or for more information contact Rana K Gupta.

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