Invitation to Offer a Project in i-Teams
Thank you for your interest in offering an project for the innovation teams of excellent students who participate in i-Teams. We would be delighted to have you participate in the class as a project PI during the upcoming semester. We promise our best efforts to make it a highly rewarding experience for your lab.
Appropriate i-Teams Projects
Many of the projects that form the basis of i-Teams are based on ideas that have received Deshpande Center grants. We also seek appropriate projects from other parts of MIT, as well as Harvard and the Harvard-affiliated hospitals. Successful projects have a number of characteristics:
- Interest of PI and research team: All PIs should be supportive of i-Teams participation, and at least one person from the lab should serve as the key contact -- the Lab Liaison. While this can be the PI, most often it is a Post-doc or senior PhD student. The research team should be willing to share information on the current stage of commercialization including IP information (if relevant), contact information on relevant market contacts and potential customers or partners. Students agree to keep information in confidence.
- Appropriate stage -- commercialization likely but not yet fully fledged: Successful projects have a novel technology current being developed with some demonstration of validity (not just a hypothetical idea). The technology should be at a stage where it is likely to get commercialized in the foreseeable future however the PI must not yet have launched a venture to commercialize the technology.
- Likely i-Teams impact on project direction: The technology's trajectory should be such that the team can explore a variety of possible markets and commercialization strategies. If the PI knows exactly how the technology is going to reach the market, then the team's work will probably not be productive. Projects however can fall in a wide range, from a situation where the technology has many possible markets but the best one is not yet clear, to having a strong idea of a target customer base and a need to gather and analyze market data.
We recognize that people have busy schedules and we aim to minimize the amount of time required by PIs. However, but the success of i-Teams is directly related to involvement of all parties. Everyone must be willing to commit to the process.
i-Teams is a 12-unit course that meets weekly throughout the semester. This is a significant commitment of time and effort by the students. The class is designed to ensure that student teams use their time well and provide detailed, thoughtful and professional reports to the project PIs.
We have found that project PIs derive significant value from the i-Teams experience. To make i-Teams projects a success, however, we ask for a limited commitment of time on the part of the PI and/or a selected member of the laboratory -- the Lab Liaison (as we call them). Throughout the semester we ask for the following commitment by the PI:
- Pre-Semester: Initial meeting with one of the course faculty Professor Fiona Murray or Dr. Luis Perez-Breva (30-45 minutes). The course TAs will also work with the LL to obtain information for project registration.
- Early Semester: Initial 10 minute PI project presentation to the i-Teams class to help students select the project they find most interesting (and a poster if you have one). This can be done by the Lab Liaison but we do ask PIs to attend.
- Early Semester: PI or LL availability in the last two weeks of the February (after student teams are matched to projects) for a one-hour meeting to describe the technology in detail, give preliminary thoughts regarding market opportunities and possible applications, and to describe the current state of any commercialization activities.
- During the Semester: PI or LL access for about one hour every two weeks to check in with the students, answer e-mail queries etc. and provide overall guidance on the project.
- Mid-Semester: PI or LL availability for the mid-term student presentation.
- End of Semester: PI or LL availability for the final student presentation.
Students will generate two deliverables during the semester that are designed to add value to the PI and project team. Before the mid-term, students will develop a short presentation outlining the key performance characteristics of the technology and how they compare to competitive alternatives in a range of applications. At the final, students will complete a presentation and report with a full go-to-market analysis including the two most promising applications, the key technical requirements that must be met for these applications, market analysis (including size, key needs, buying cycle), and competitive analysis. Students will also outline the most effective commercialization strategy, licensing issues, funding possibilities and potential partners.