University of Wisconsin–Madison


Innovation written on a chalkboard
Image credit: thinkpublic on Flickr

Want to make something happen? You’ve come to the right place. If you have an idea for an innovative business model, product, or technology, D2P is here to connect you with programs and resources that can help make your ideas into realities.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is part of a thriving and growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in Wisconsin. The university’s $1.2 billion in research awards helps drive $15 billion of economic impact annually to the state, which has included the formation of over 400 startups. Innovators in the greater Madison area have access to a diverse array of programs that work to transform ideas into discoveries and address real-world issues.

D2P provides some direct programming, and we also serve as UW–Madison’s hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. Contact us to get connected to the wide array of resources on campus and in the community.

What Resources Are Available?

INSITE Entrepreneurship Guide

The INSITE Entrepreneurship guide is a comprehensive database of entrepreneurship resources in Madison, maintained by the Initiative for Studies in Transformational Leadership (INSITE) within the Wisconsin School of Business with support from UW–Madison’s Small Business Development Center.

D2P Programs

Discovery to Product LogoD2P serves as the university’s central hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. Whether you are on or off campus, our staff is here as your first point of contact to get connected to the larger entrepreneurial ecosystem here at the university and in the Madison community. Contact us to get connected.

D2P also offers educational programming for UW–Madison faculty, staff and students. D2P has two key program offerings: Innovation to Market (I2M), and Igniter. Course descriptions are below, and content is based on the NSF I-Corps curriculum, a lean startup program developed by Steve Blank for federally funded research projects. Programs are led by our Innovation and Commercialization Specialists, who are experienced entrepreneurs, start-up executives, product development managers, and technologists with specific industry experiences. The best candidates for D2P programs have taken some steps to move beyond the idea stage to determine feasibility and market need. Having a project team in place is also helpful, but if you don’t have a team, D2P may be able to help you build one. We have course offerings year-round, but you can also contact D2P’s staff at any time to discuss your idea and get connected to resources to help you develop it.

The relationship between value proposition and customer segments is product-market fit.If you’re just getting started with your idea, D2P’s I2M program may be for you. Knowing who your customers are and what they want is the fundamental first step to commercializing any good innovation. Over the course of five weeks, the I2M program helps teams research and test their innovation’s value with potential customer segments. Participants also learn about the lean startup methodology and use industry-leading tools to assess whether their innovation fits customer needs and desires. At the end of the program, project teams are equipped with the tools and knowledge to identify the next steps on their journey to commercialization. The I2M program consists of three half-day classroom sessions and two one-hour individual team meetings with instructors. We typically offer I2M in the fall and spring semesters. Find courses.

A business plan tests whether your idea will work or not.D2P’s Igniter program is designed for innovators who have gotten a little further along the path of developing and testing their innovation. Once you have mastered product-market fit (covered in I2M), you are ready to work on refining your business model. The Igniter program begins with an intensive 5 week sprint that includes a weekly series of 3-hour workshops that help teams develop the strategies and materials needed to move products or services from the lab or dorm room out to the market. Igniter project teams also work one-on-one with D2P’s mentors and staff to address issues and challenges associated with the specific innovation and business opportunity. We typically offer Igniter in the Spring and Summer semesters. Find courses.