Igniter is for teams further along in their journey who are ready to turn their research, technology, or idea into a product, service, or process that benefits society. Over the course of fourteen weeks, teams take part in iterative learning as they use the Business Model Canvas framework to develop and validate a plan for the infrastructure, finances, and operational aspects of how they will deliver their innovation to the world.
Like Innovation to Market, Igniter is driven by interviews with real customers and partners. If you haven’t yet spent time on customer interviews to refine product-market fit for your innovation, you may want to consider attending our Innovation to Market program first. During Igniter, teams will answer important questions that help shape the development of a sustainable business model to implement the innovation. What resources are needed to create your product or service and how will you acquire them? How will your solution get distributed to the people that need it? How do you communicate effectively about your idea to catalyze support and engagement? How will you be funded and how will you grow? The Igniter program provides the tools to navigate these questions and chart the best course for success. The Igniter course consists of 14 weeks of instruction, spanning fall and spring semesters with a break in between. Delivery consists of live, in-person classroom sessions.
Igniter teams may be eligible for $5,000 in funding for use, in consultation with D2P staff, to help each team advance toward its goals.
All D2P programs are free and open to UW–Madison faculty, staff, and students, and employees of UW–Madison affiliate organizations.
Find out if Igniter is right for you! Sign up for a Mentor Chat.
Fall 2023/Spring 2024 program
2023-2024 dates: Oct. 3-Apr. 16 (spans fall and spring semester with break)
Course includes 14 weeks of instruction, spanning fall and spring semesters with a break in between. Delivery is a blend of in person, virtual live classroom sessions and asynchronous learning.
Sessions are Tuesdays from 9-11 am
You will also participate in a weekly mentor meeting during the duration of the course.
Applications due: Sunday, September 17, 2023 at 11:59 pm
Please Note: Fall 2023/Spring 2024 instruction will be hybrid.* The first and final class sessions will be held in person. Final session April 16, 2024 extended hours: 9 AM to 1:30 PM. All other classes will be virtual. Extracurricular in person activities will also be scheduled (participation optional). If you have questions or concerns, we encourage you to reach out to discuss your concerns and/or circumstances.
*Until further notice.
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Igniter Program Information
During the Igniter program, teams will:
- Develop a deeper understanding of the core elements of a business model.
- Use the Business Model Canvas to validate, create, and refine all aspects of the business model for their innovation, including work to develop or refine the value proposition for their innovation, and identify key customer segments.
- Hone discovery interview skills and learn how to gather insights to validate or invalidate hypotheses.
- Understand how to identify sales channels and customer acquisition planning for their innovation.
- Determine key partners, activities, and resources and develop a key milestone timeline.
- Learn about revenue and cost models and apply this knowledge to their business model planning.
- Determine what financing options they want to pursue for their innovation.
- Develop or refine how they present their innovation to partners or investors.
After taking part in Igniter, teams will have:
- Conducted 40 in-depth discovery interviews and a developed understanding of customers’ existing workflow and approach.
- Developed an understanding of all aspects of the business model canvas and how elements of the business model interact.
- Applied the business model canvas knowledge to iterate, pivot, and refine path forward for their innovation.
- Developed revised milestones, a timeline, and clearly defined next steps (business launch, accelerator, funding sources, SBIR/STTR, NSF I-Corps, venture capital, etc.).
- Refined how they articulate their innovation and developed an understanding of what funding and resources they need to be successful.
- You have a well-articulated idea (your innovation) which consists of a new product, solution to a social problem, technology, or service.
- You can state what problem your innovation solves or addresses.
- You’ve already done some testing of your concept by conducting interviews with potential customers, partners, or stakeholders. We strongly recommend applicants have completed at least 20 interviews, but we will consider high potential applicants who have not yet reached this threshold.
- You’re confident that your innovation is technically feasible.
- You are able to commit the necessary time outside of class (on average, 3-4 hours per week, which can be divided between team members) to conduct interviews and complete other assignments. While a team is not required, it is highly recommended to form a team in order to balance required activities and have diversity of thought.
- You understand that Igniter uses the “flipped classroom” approach, meaning that you will need to make time to review instructional content outside of the virtual classroom. When the cohort is together in the classroom, some time is spent to review and discuss the week’s assigned instructional content, but the largest portion of the time is spent on team presentations, including feedback from instructors and other course participants on various assignments that are completed between sessions.
What participants are saying
"D2P was incredibly helpful with their business guidance, connections to local mentors and potential users, and insights on financing opportunities. The Igniter program was crucial for FoodChain's development, truly accelerating our business's growth."Benjamin Winters, Co-founder, Food Chain
“Not only did D2P give us invaluable guidance on how to transform our idea into a process leading to its realization, but we found validation and encouragement that enabled us to focus and open up opportunities for grant-funded research.”Paolo Desiati, Assistant Research Professor, Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC)
“Thank you to the Discovery to Product team for nearly a year of lean-startup mentoring at UW-Madison—-we are lucky to have such an experienced and passionate team of entrepreneurship mentors on campus! Through the Innovation to Market (I2M) and Igniter programs, I was able to piece together the Flux XII LLC market, value proposition, and business model canvas in a way that even a chemist could learn.”Patrick Sullivan, PhD candidate, Materials Chemistry
“Igniter is an incredible program where in 14 weeks you have all the tools and resources you need to create impact with your idea. D2P’s fantastic mentors will work closely with you to guide and help you through the journey.”Ligia da Cunha Moreira, Research Associate, Animal Sciences
"The emphasis on contagion control in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic has helped create a new market for our Saf-T-Drape shield for MRI and CT scanners. We are now working with WARF to apply for a patent. Your help and encouragement in the D2P courses were immensely helpful in focusing who our customers are and helping to refine our product. Our team really appreciated the structured course as well as the more informal guidance. I think it is safe to say that without the help from the courses and the weekly assignments for market research that this idea would have died on the vine."Terry Oakes, Visiting Scientist, UW–Madison Department of Radiology