Innovation Academy Teaches Graduate Students How to Turn an Idea into a Business

Achievement date: 

A semester-long Innovation Academy for graduate students examines how to turn an idea into a value proposition worthy of funding and was developed at the Center for Innovative and Strategic Transformation of Alkane Resources (CISTAR), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) based at Purdue University.


The course teaches students a combination of business-led and technology-led entrepreneurship theory. Students learn how to assess the risk of technology failure versus potential return on investment.


Ideas presented are the cornerstones of the NSF iCorps and DOE Energy iCorps programs. The concepts taught are 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.

The course covers numerous concepts, including how to think of an idea with potential and turn it into a venture with a proposition and a logo; how companies form and how to create a model to test ideas; the concept of value proposition and what determines the minimum viable product; principles such as customers, channels, key assets, resources, and partners; commercial potential and risks involved with your adventure; and ways to get early-stage funding to turn your idea into a proposition.