Customer Discovery: Assessing the Need for Your Idea

One of the first questions you need to ask if you’re interested in putting your idea out into the world as a product is whether there’s a real need for it. The programs listed below are designed to help BU researchers and research teams get started on the path to developing their idea into a successful product for license or startup.

To sign up for any of these programs, contact Rana K. Gupta at

Catalyst Program

This program, from Technology Development and Innovate@BU, is designed to help PIs explore the market viability of their ideas. Too often, we embark on a market-destined idea without engaging in the laborious, sometimes less exciting, but ultimately vital, work of determining the need for the idea. PIs will be matched with Questrom MBA and doctoral students to interview potential customers.

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NSF Spark Program

Open to BU faculty, PhDs, or postdoctoral associates, this program includes two online group meetings, two team-focused office hour calls, and independent work through which participants will participate in an immersive customer discovery experience that has been proven to significantly strengthen grant proposals, including highly competitive SBIR/STTR funding. 

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Products Designed for Adoption

In this in-depth tutorial with Pearl Partners, a strategic innovation consulting firm, members of the BU research community can learn how to understand what truly motivates potential customers, develop a relevant problem statement, and refine an initial idea to develop the product that is most relevant to a target market.

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