Home 9 Opportunities 9 Venture Exploration Program


Brought to you by MIx and the NSF I-Corps Node at MIT

VEP is a three-part program that allows you to develop a business model for your research-derived product or service. This program will help you:

  • Learn about pathways from academia to venture creation.
  • Define and communicate the broader impact of your research.
  • Think about how to turn your science into a startup.


VEP has three modules, each geared around one of three goals:

        1. Determine the product-market fit for your tech
        2. Understand science startup success factors
        3. Plan for next steps: communications, networking, and potential funding


VEP is primarily for MIT postdocs and PhD candidates. You may participate as a solo member, or as part of a team. If you’re a researcher, other type of student, and/or from another university, you’re still welcome to apply.

Participants are required to have a technology that will form the basis for their work in the program (usually, the tech that you’ve been working on in the lab).



  • You’ll begin VEP with a three-week I-Corps Spark program, embarking on customer discovery to define product-market fit.
    • Get out of the building and conduct at least twelve interviews with potential customers
    • Eligible to apply for a $1,500 grant to conduct an additional twelve customer discovery interviews
    • Understand why your technology has value, and to whom
    • Gain an appreciation for what it takes to commercialize technology and the barriers to adoption
    • Start filling out your business model canvas
    • Develop a network of like-minded peers


    Next, you’ll learn more about success factors that play a role in launching a successful tough tech venture:

    • Entrepreneurial strategy
    • Thinking about your technology, the market, and regulatory considerations
    • Early-stage financing and funding sources, including VC and non-dilutive government grants
    • Pitching, communicating, and storytelling

    Past speakers have included Scott Stern and Erin Scott from MIT’s Sloan School of Management; Prof. Oli de Weck, MIT Aero Astro; Shreya Dave, CEO & Co-Founder, Via Separations; Bob Mumgaard, CEO & Co-Founder, Commonwealth Fusion Systems; Veronica Stelmakh, CEO & Co-Founder, Mesodyne; and Michael Kearney, Principal at The Engine

    And finally, you’ll put it all together as you consider next steps. What have you learned about the commercialization process, and about you and your technology?

      • Receive mentorship from MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service
      • Final presentation to share your learnings from throughout the program