Licensing & Ventures Group


This is UVA LVG’s regional I-Corps program, tailored to meet the needs of faculty, researchers and students.

It includes training from a certified I-Corps instructor, connection to mentors and interactive sessions with the LVG staff.

Qualifying teams who successfully complete Discovery may receive funds for customer discovery and ongoing mentorship from LVG staff.

Each team is paired with an LVG EIR who provides industry-related guidance and expertise (see EIR definition below).


  • Team members have different responsibilities but work together (see below for descriptions of positions/responsibilities)
  • Work will be spread across team members – especially during the customer interview/discovery process. Time will be needed to determine who to talk with, and to then schedule and conduct the interviews.
  • Open-mindedness about your product/technology and your potential customers (what you find during the customer discovery process may change a lot!)
  • Understanding that customer discovery is best accomplished through asking questions, not talking about your product/technology. We know you want to tell the world about your creation and what problems it solves, but to get the best feedback about the potential market, you will need to limit what you reveal to the customers you interview. 


  • Understanding basics of the business model canvas
  • Learning best practices for customer discovery
  • Developing a value proposition
  • Defining customer segments
  • Analyzing lessons learned
  • Entrepreneurial Leads (usually postdocs and grad students) have the opportunity to network with industry experts during the course of doing customer discovery

Key Terms

  • I-Corps – I-Corps employs the scientific method to help researchers discover whether or not there is a market for their product or technology. Pronounced “eye core.”
  • Technical lead (TL) – Typically a faculty member who is the technology inventor and serves as principal investigator, or a postdoctoral researcher who has deep expertise in the core technology area to be evaluated for market potential
  • Entrepreneurial lead (EL) – Typically a graduate student or postdoctoral researcher who leads the team and is committed to commercialization
  • Industry Mentor (IM) – An industry expert with business/entrepreneurial experience who is independent from the technology development and team. You won’t need one to participate in Discovery, but you will be required to have one if you want to apply to participate in the National I-Corps program. 
  • Customer discovery – The process of hypothesizing who your market is and what their needs are, interviewing some of those potential customers, and redefining what the market and the needs are based on conversations with potential customers
  • Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) – Entrepreneurs who have started, raised funding for, and successfully exited companies. These individuals bring valuable experience, networks, and knowledge to the I-Corps program, the follow-on work to the program and overall business and domain expertise.   
  • Instructor – The person who provides curriculum content and feedback to I-Corps participants, generally someone with an advanced degree who has knowledge of research, commercialization of technology and Lean Launchpad
  • Customers – People you will interview to discover more about the market, also referred to as interviewees (you will not be “selling” your product or technology to them)

Want to learn more? Contact Dawn Kidd:

Dawn Kidd

UVA I-Corps Mid-South Hub Contact