Innovation Academy

The Innovation Academy is a semester-long course offered to graduate students that examines how to formulate an idea into a value proposition worthy of funding.

The Academy is designed around the NSF iCorps program using the Business Model Canvas as a basis for stimulating a culture of innovation in CISTAR.

course overview 

This course is a combination of business-led and technology-led entrepreneurship theory where students learn the process of assessing RISK (of technology failure) and RETURN (on investment). Students will explore: 

  • How to think of an idea with potential and turn it into an adventure with a proposition and a logo.
  • How companies form and how to create a model to test your ideas. 
  • The concept of value proposition and what determines the minimum viable product. 
  • Principals such as customers, channels, key assets, resources, and partners. 
  • Commercial potential and risks involved with your adventure. 
  • Ways to get early-stage funding to turn your idea into a proposition. 

At the end of the course, students will create and deliver an elevator-pitch presentation to the "Dragon's Den."

Course Goals

  1. Formulating an idea into a viable product and funding opportunity
  2. Identifying customers and customer needs
  3. Defining how the product might be manufactured and understanding how to create a profit
  4. Compiling insights into a value proposition designed to attract


The ideas presented are the cornerstones of the NSF iCorps and DOE Energy iCorps programs. All of this is required for early-stage funding of small businesses such as the SBIR and STTR programs. Participants who complete the Academy will receive a Certificate of Completion from CISTAR.

  1. Getting started – What is your idea?
    1. Think of an idea 
    2. Begin to structure
    3. What is an epiphany?
  1. Identifying Customers - Who is this for?
    1. For whom?
    2. How? with technology concept
    3. How? with IP 
    4. Key Resources and partners? 
    5. Key assets and activities?
    6. Assess with Techno-Commercial Analysis
  1. Defining Income and Expenses – Is there sufficient value?
    1. Finance from grants 
    2. Fund with business development 
    3. Proposition
  1. Your Value Proposition – How compelling is your idea?
    1. Propose with business model
    2. Build student presentation
    3. Pitch Presentation

Program Coordinator 

Peter Keeling portrait Peter Keeling
Industry & Innovation Director
Purdue University