Set Your Idea Alight


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.

Read about some of the startups and innovators who have participated in D2P programs.

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.

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.

*Full session schedule:
October 3 (in person at D2P), 10, 17
November 7, 14 and 28
December 12
January 9, 23
February 6, 20
March 5
April 2, 16 (in person at D2P)

Fall 2024 program

Watch for fall dates soon.

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.