Teams in the Igniter program get the spark needed to move toward implementing their innovation, often via the launch of a startup company. Over the course of eight weeks, teams work on all aspects of their innovation’s business model. An important prerequisite to undertaking this work is speaking to a large number of potential customers and partners. If you haven’t yet spent time on customer interviews, you may want to consider attending our Innovation to Market (I2M) program first.

Like I2M, Igniter is driven by interviews with real customers and partners. The information gleaned in those conversations helps teams continue to iterate on all aspects of their business model, including cost structures, revenue streams, key partners, and other important details that will define the path forward.

At the end of the Igniter program, successful teams may be eligible to apply for funding from D2P to help them continue advancing toward the launch phase. The Igniter course consists of eight classroom sessions and individual mentor coaching. All D2P programs are free and open to UW–Madison faculty, staff, and students.

2019/2020 Program Dates

Summer 2019: Tuesdays, June 25 – August 20 (no class July 2)
Applications due: May 15, 2019

Fall 2019: Tuesdays, October 8 – December 3 (no class November 26)
Applications due: September 19, 2019

Spring 2020: Tuesdays, March 3 – April 28 (no class March 17)
Applications due: January 27, 2020

View detailed course schedules for Igniter.

Apply for Igniter

Igniter Program Information


The primary objective of the Igniter program is to help position teams to be able to successfully launch a startup company. Over the course of eight weeks, teams will work on creating and validating a viable business model, including:

  • Distribution channels & partners
  • Cost structures
  • Revenue models
  • Key resources
  • Key activities and milestones
  • Funding sources


  • You have a well-articulated product, technology, or business model concept.
  • You can state what problem your innovation solves or addresses.
  • You’ve tested your concept by talking to at least 20 potential customers or partners
  • You’re confident that your innovation is technically feasible.
  • Your team consists of at least two people—ideally, a business lead and a technical lead. Additional team members make the project even stronger.
  • 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.
  • You understand that Igniter uses the “flipped classroom” approach, meaning that you will need to make time time to review instructional content outside of the 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.