For Immediate Release: April 5, 2016
Contact: Keila López
Grupo Guayacán Launches Third Edition of I-Corps Puerto Rico at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus
Mayagüez – With 16 participating teams of innovators and entrepreneurs, the third edition of I-Corps Puerto Rico program kicked off this past weekend at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez Campus (UPR-M). This edition, made possible through a collaboration agreement between the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) and Grupo Guayacán, Inc. (GGI), marks the first time the program is offered at a local university and outside of the San Juan metropolitan area. “After two successful I-Corps cohorts in 2015, we are proud to broaden the program’s reach to the western region. We are also excited to partner directly with UPRM, a leading institution in research and innovation and one of GGI’s key allies,” said Laura Cantero, Executive Director of Grupo Guayacán. Cantero also pointed to the fact that 7 of the participating teams are directly affiliated with the UPR-M campus.
I-Corps Puerto Rico is an intensive program that seeks to advance the commercialization of innovations through scalable business models. The program is offered through a partnership between GGI, the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust (Science Trust), and the Georgia Institute of Technology (GT), whose VentureLab manages the regional node for Innovation Corps, offered by the National Science Foundation (NSF). I-Corps participants go through an intensive Customer Discovery process which allows them to validate the commercial potential of their innovations through interviews with potential clients. The program includes a three day launch, two full day sessions and a two day conclusion workshop where each team makes a final presentation. “Through programs like I-Corps Puerto Rico we support local universities so they can incentivize the commercialization of science and technology based research. Our objective is that, within seven years, Puerto Rico becomes a world recognized leader in innovation driven enterprises, which strengthen the budding entrepreneurial ecosystem on the island,” said Lucy Crespo, Chief Executive Officer at the Puerto Rico Science Trust.
The team of I-Corps Puerto Rico instructors is led by Keith McGreggor, Director of GT’s VentureLab, experienced entrepreneur, and veteran NSF I-Corps instructor. “The GT VentureLab team is enthusiastic to continue collaborating with Grupo Guayacán in order to provide local universities, in this case UPR-M, with a series of concepts and methodologies that will allow these 16 teams to kick start their business ideas. Through a rigorous Customer Discovery process, I-Corps participants will learn about their main customers and their specific needs, which is, without a doubt, the first step in commercializing their innovations and developing scalable high impact ventures from Puerto Rico,” said McGreggor.
The UPR’s President, Dr. Uroyoán Walker Ramos, also expressed his enthusiasm at this new opportunity which provides access to the proven methodologies of I-Corps Puerto Rico. “Being able to host the third edition of I-Corps at the UPR’s Mayagüez Campus is one of the ways we can further entrepreneurial development from Puerto Rico’s main higher education institution. The program allows us to promote innovations stemming from scientific research and also enables entrepreneurs from around the island to access the talent available at the University. Through this initiative, we reaffirm the UPR’s commitment to entrepreneurship, a theme that has garnered particular importance in Puerto Rico’s current situation”, said Dr. Walker.
Prof. José I. Vega Torres, PhD, Director of the Center for Business and Economic Development at the UPRM, is also supporting the program. “We are proud to have so much talent and entrepreneurial potential in one room. From here, we hope to launch many new businesses that can commercialize innovative technologies and create new employment opportunities for our graduates”, indicated Dr. Vega Torres.
The teams participating in this I-Corps cohort represent the UPR’s Mayagüez and Carolina campuses, as well as the Interamerican University at San Germán, and entrepreneurial support organizations such as the Puerto Rico Small Business Technology Development Center (PRSBTDC) and the Mayagüez-based technology incubator, VITEC. Some of the industries represented through the cohort are: construction and infrastructure, communications, education, energy, information technology, materials, environment, and healthcare. The group also includes 16 mentors who work side by side with the teams supporting them throughout the Customer Discovery and business model design.
Excitement was evident among the participants during the program’s kick off weekend. Antonio Negrón from D2M Solutions highlighted the program’s value in validating and commercializing his business idea: “I can ensure that the I-Corps program is a priceless tool. From day one we are already being forced to reevaluate our original product and market theories. We are anxious to see where I-Corps will take us.” Another participant, Dr. Yong-Jihn Kim, also expressed his hopes for the program: “The I-Corps experience has been very good, it has provided insights to help us establish a clear value proposition that will respond to the needs of our customer segments.” Nelson Perea, from the Puerto Rico Techno Economic Corridor and one of the program’s mentors, underscored the value of the talent accessed through the I-Corps program. “The program allows all of us, including projects incubated at VITEC, to learn from each other and take advantage of the knowledge and expertise of this excellent group of mentors who are helping participants accelerate the development of their ventures.”
The third edition of I-Corps Puerto Rico will conclude on Sunday, May 1st, 2016. For additional information please contact Keila López at email@example.com or at 787-641-6028.
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